Wrought iron restoration at Antietam Lake
Antietam Lake valve house restoration to begin Monday
Structure will look like 1880 original
The roof of the 132-year-old octagonal building is caved in. Bricks are crumbled. Wrought iron railings are rusted. The narrow walkway that leads to it is rickety.
Starting Monday, it will literally go to pieces. The components will be removed carefully by SMJ Construction Inc., Amity Township, and JB Electric Co., Minersville, Schuylkill County, to begin a $180,000 restoration paid for by Lower Alsace Township and the Friends of Antietam Lake.
Berks County Parks and Recreation Department Director Clare W. Adams said replacement bricks needed in some places will be custom made to match the originals, but all the original stone in the base will be cleaned and remain intact.
The wrought iron will be cleaned and refurbished, she said.
No one knows what happened to the original door, but a replacement will be made using old photographs as a guide, Adams said.
The three windows will be refurbished, and one of the two plaques that acknowledged the designer and builder will be returned to its original location, she said.
The other plaque was found in pieces at the base of the valve house by divers who worked on the dam restoration, and cannot be reinstalled, said Adams.
“We have drawings of the way the valve house looked,” she said. “It’s not going to be guesswork. When we put it back together, it’s going to be an exact replica of the way it looked in 1880.”
The department is coordinating with the township to keep people away from the site while the work is being done because of safety concerns for passers-by and construction workers, Adams said.
Township Manager Terry L. Styer said Lower Alsace, which also provided some of the money the county used to buy the property from the city, is pleased to see the project moving forward.
“It’s a piece of history,” she said. “It’s nice to see it’s being restored and recognized as an important part of our heritage.”
County Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt, who attends parks department meetings on behalf of the commissioners, said the valve house is a landmark, a symbol of the township and an architecturally signficant piece of history.
“Repairing the dam was for safety,” he said. “The valve house is really going to set off the lake and its surroundings, and show the commitment the county has made to that facility.
“It’s been a long time coming.”
Adams agreed the valve house restoration is long overdue.
“We’re excited about this,” she said. “The valve house is the icon, the image of Antietam Lake. Restoring it means a great deal not just to the community, but the county as a whole.”