By Regina Adams, NAVFAC Washington Public Affairs
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- A ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the Washington Navy Yard, Oct. 8 in honor of the restoration of the historic watch box that President Abraham Lincoln frequently used more than 150 years ago.
With the support of Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Washington, the watch box was restored after being relocated from Naval Support Facility (NSF) Indian Head to the Washington Navy Yard, April 16.
"The renovation of the historic watch box was my favorite project, ever," said Igor Boras, Engineering Branch senior construction manager at Public Works Department Washington. "The aspect that made it my favorite was that by default of its smaller size and larger number of details, one could actually observe a beautiful building transforming from one week to another."
The restoration team used historic photographs to restore the historical wrap-around porch and brick flooring. The findings of the paint investigation, which used 40x magnification of standard stratigraphy on 25 distinguishable paint layers, provided the historically accurate building color scheme.
To reflect the true historic orientation, one opening was changed from a window to a door while another was changed from a door to a window. Two windows were original, and the third one was painstakingly copied to be an exact image of the historic windows. All rotten, missing and damaged wood siding was replaced, and new wood trim reflected the existing one.
"The support from the command was outstanding," said Boras. "The transfer of the building, first on the wheels and after that via barge, was an unforgettable work experience."
After almost five hours traveling by barge up the Potomac River, the 11-ton watch box was offloaded at the Washington Navy Yard parking lot and moved to West Leutze Park, slightly south of its original site where the Navy Yard fire house now stands.
It took six months to move the watch box and execute the memorandum of agreement among the Department of the Navy, the District of Columbia State Historic Preservation Officer and Maryland State Historic Preservation Officer.
"This building has the potential to be studied as the only surviving example of a wood frame guardhouse prior to the Civil War, and we are all proud in NAVFAC for our small contribution and hard work that paid off at the end," said Boras.
"The successful team of historic preservation architects from EYP Architecture and Engineering and Summit Construction and Environmental Service spent months on each small detail, which in the end, resulted in this Navy Yard gem."