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Chester's Lightfoot Tower targeted for restoration

by Adam Jacobs

 CHESTER - The Lightfoot Tower is undergoing its second major restoration in 23 years.

 At least the Chester Trust hopes it will be.

 On August 6 the trust officially launched a campaign to restore the tower, located behind the Zoé Vallé Library, making it more accessible to tourists and the public.

 "Time has taken its toll on the tower," said Suzi Fraser, chairwoman of the trust. "The steps have had to be shut off from public access. What we want to do is restore the tower back to its original state. It will have to meet building codes and such but we're going to give it our best shot to bring it back to its former glory."

 Built in 1904 by Alfred Ross Lightfoot, husband of Zoé ValléLightfoot, the tower remains one of the most unique structures in Chester.

 "The Lightfoot Tower is one of the many artifacts from a bygone era that we're lucky to have," said trust member Michael Dunn.

 The tower was built largely as a getaway for Mr. Lightfoot to escape his wife's cocktail and tea parties, and to view the yacht races in Mahone Bay.

 It went into decline following his death in 1911.

 It was in 1983 the Municipal Heritage Society undertook the restoration of the tower. However, time and the salt air have yet again left their mark.

 The Zoé Vallé Library board of trustees, knowing the heritage society has a heavy workload with the Lordly House restoration project, approached the trust to help.

 At this time there is no time frame or known cost for the restoration project, which is very much in its infancy.

 "We don't know exactly how much money we need because we haven't gotten there yet," Ms Fraser said. "We have the engineer's plans and we're going to move forward with that. Once we contract a builder then we'll know exactly how much money we'll need."

 When the time is right and the money is secure, tender will be called for the restoration.

 "This report will give us what we need," Ms Fraser said.

 Already, several thousand private pledges were received even before the project was officially launched.

  Zoé Vallé librarian Glen MacLeod said he has the privilege of looking at the tower every day.

 And he's seen some interesting things.

 "I live with this tower every day," he said. "I've seen teenagers sneaking up there at night. I've seen kids building a clubhouse up there on the second floor, though I didn't even know they were there for a week. Though, mostly I see people driving by slowly or stopping to see what it is. For me, to see it deteriorate every day is sad."



posted on 08/12/08
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