By Regina Adams, NAVFAC Washington Public Affairs
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Nearly 150 years after President Abraham Lincoln came to the Washington Navy Yard to visit his friend, Yard Commander Rear Adm. John Dahlgren, the same watch box he passed through and checked in at was returned to the Navy Yard, April 16.
With support from Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Washington, the historic watch box, originally built in 1853-1854, was moved back to the Navy Yard after spending more than 100 years at Naval Support Facilities (NSF) Indian Head.
"I felt proud to be given the honor to execute the relocation and renovation of the historic watch box, since I felt a part of something bigger," said Igor Boras, senior construction manager, project management and engineering branch at Public Works Department Washington. "I was fortunate to be a part of the renovation of something that can be considered an important example of the United States architectural history."
To prepare the 11-ton watch box for its journey, it had to be braced so it wouldn't be damaged during the lift and move. Bracing was done with wooden frame on the inside, customized corner angles and cables on the outside and steel beams underneath.
"This project was a great example of NAVFAC Washington coordination between two naval activities, South Potomac and Washington Navy Yard, with support from the Region," said Boras. "One team on two different activities ensured the successful move of this historical building."
After being placed on the remote control operated travel dolly, the watch box, known as Building 185, was moved across NSF Indian Head to its pier where it was placed on a barge with a crane.
After nearly five hours traveling by barge up the Potomac River, the watch box was offloaded with a crane at a Navy Yard parking lot. It will remain there until it is moved to West Leutze Park, slightly south of its original site where the Navy Yard fire house now stands.
Construction work on the watch box primarily will be on reconstructing the porch with columns and renovating the main building structure within the standards of historic building preservation. This will make the watch box look much like it did in the 1850s, as well as make for a successful execution of the memorandum of agreement among the Department of Navy, the District of Columbia State Historic Preservation Officer and Maryland State Historic Preservation Officer.