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Lowell, Like New

Ponce de Leon never found his Fountain of Youth. Maybe he should have looked up...


Yesterday, as the photographer took these pictures, a Crimson Key tour guide told his crowd, "If you've ever seen a postcard of one of Harvard's houses, it's this one right here. This is Lowell House."

Postcard-perfect Lowell House is getting a facelift this summer. Its tower--the largest among the houses--is being restored during five months of construction two years in the planning.

According Philip W. Bisaga, mechanical maitenance manager for the Office of Physical Resources, about six separate contracting firms have been hired to conduct the restoration. Another half dozen have been hired as consultants, Bisaga says.

Shawn P. King of Muckle Company, Inc. pries wood siding off the Lowell House tower. Muckle, a Norwood-based general contractor specializing in restorations, ships much of the wood off site.

The wood is then stripped and treated. Any cracks or gouges are filled with epoxy, and the original wood is replaced.

In 1930, when Lowell House was being built, plans called for the tower to feature four clocks. But a faculty member, travelling in the Soviet Union, discovered a set of 400-year-old bells from St. Danilov's monastery that Stalin planned to melt for ammunition. The man wired Harvard to stop construction immediately, and arranged to have the bells shipped to the U.S.

Only 23 of the original 44 bells were saved. 22 now sit in Lowell's tower, where they were arranged by a Russian monk. The largest weighs 12.5 tons, and measures nine feet in diameter. The second largest, and the only bell outside Lowell, can be found atop the Business School's Baker Library.

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