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Wachusett Dam Reservoir Bastion Improvements

  • Wachusett Dam Reservoir Bastion Improvements

The Bastion at the Wachusett Dam Reservoir Historic District in Clinton, Massachusetts underwent rehabilitation efforts so that it may continue to reflect its early twentieth century grandeur of the City Beautiful movement and early progressive era for its 20,000 annual visitors to enjoy for years to come. The Dam property allows for hiking, cross-country skiing, and shoreline fishing on 21,000 acres of land.

Investigations and Deficiencies 

As the owner/operator of the facility, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) retained Kleinfelder as experts to evaluate structural and historic properties of the building, which sits on top of the Dam. Multiple issues were noted during investigations, including deterioration throughout the interior and exterior surfaces, water infiltration, failed drainage assemblies, deteriorated mortar joints, and cracks in the concrete slab roofing, which also serves as a walkway for visitors.

Repairs and New Elements 

Kleinfelder performed field investigations and provided MWRA with recommendations to repair the deficiencies to historical accuracy. A review of building codes revealed that proposed work on the Bastion structure qualified as repair, and new structural elements were designed to comply with the International Building Code, while concurrently using original or in-like-kind materials to retain the historical accuracy and significance of the structure.

Repairs to the Bastion building included replacement of the existing walkway/roof and the top four feet of the concrete interior wall. The approach balanced preservation and rehabilitation of the historic materials while meeting the MWRA need to stabilize the structure. As a team, designers and historians identified specific areas of repair, replacement-in-kind, or limited replacement due to modern code requirements.

A key element of this decision-making process was the design team understanding the character defining features of the Bastion conveyed by the architectural historian and the code needs conveyed by the design team to the architectural historian. Some of the character defining features stressed were the rusticated Ashlar granite block facing, materials such as bronze and cast iron, pipe railings, and the drainage system that resulted in square concrete panels on the walkways, as well as the need for fireproof doors, modern electrical systems, and Americans with Disability Act compliant railings.

Project Results

The Wachusett Dam Bastion Improvements project is a living example of restoring a historic structure to its peak grandeur by carefully considering modern technologies, hazards, materials, approaches, and aesthetics. Seen by more than 20,000 visitors annually, the Bastion has retained its character as a representative example of its time.

Project Details

Clinton, MA
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority