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Gateway now lit at night
RUMFORD -- Strathglass Park took a major step toward restoration recently as, for the first time in over a half a century, the imposing granite gateway was lit up at night by lights at the top of each pillar.
The lighting of the gate is the culmination of a two-year effort by a local non-profit, the Strathglass Park Preservation Society, to repair the crumbling mortar in the gate and add historic-looking lighting to the top of each 16-foot granite pillar.
Strathglass Park, a 51-building brick, townhouse-style development built in 1902, was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1974, but has suffered severe decline. Problems have included the age of the buildings as well as economic decline.
In 2008, the Preservation Society was organized to fight the decline and the blight which had developed in Strathglass, a neighborhood known locally at the “brick park.”
While the gate is owned by the town, the Society raised approximately $6,000 privately to undertake the project and will be donating the project to the town. In 2010, the Rumford selectboard agreed to assume the electric bill for keeping the gates lighted once the installation was complete.
The gate restoration is the first of many projects planned by the Society. The gate work was undertaken first due to the extreme deterioration of the mortar, which could have eventually forced the demolition of parts of the gate. The Society also decided to light the pillars to create a dramatic and welcoming appearance at the park entrance. Historic postcards show there were different styles of lighting at various times at the top of the pillars approximately a century ago. A metal pipe remained in the center of each pillar from those earlier lights, allowing wiring to be run to the top.
The lights used are designed to minimize upward glare and thus reduce night time light pollution. The Society received special assistance in designing the project from Central Maine Power, which took the unusual step of allowing the wiring and meter box to be installed on its own pole.
Financial supporters of the project included the Franklin Savings Bank, Augusta attorney Severin Beliveau, the Rumford Historical Society, and Peter and Ernest Robichaud, in addition to over 60 local people who paid a $15 membership fee to join the Society, and numerous investors who bought debentures from the Society.