After months of winter work, the restoration and preservation of the set of 12th and 13th century Romanesque and Gothic cloister archways at Gloucester’s Hammond Castle Museum is nearly complete as the museum prepares for opening day of its 48th season on April 1, with free self-guided tours. Later in the day will be a musical performance tied to the city’s 400+ celebration this year.
Generations of visitors have stopped to be photographed in front of the ornate, historic arches. Last year alone, the castle museum had nearly 50,000 visitors. and thanks to the Gloucester Community Preservation Committee, the museum was awarded close to half of the cost of restoration with a $110,000 matching grant, approved by City Council in January 2022.
Restorations to the ocean-facing archways are complete while the arches near the front entryway are in the final phase and will be complete prior to the museum’s opening this season. This is the first time these arches have been restored since the castle opened nearly a century ago.
The medieval-style castle overlooking Gloucester Harbor was constructed in the late 1920s by inventor John Hays Hammond Jr. as his home and laboratory and to house his eclectic collection of art and artifacts.
“We could not be more thankful for this grant that we received. It helped us to make this work possible,” said Hammond Castle Museum Executive Director Linda Harvey. “It was so important to us to save the life of these archways. It was essential to preserve the history and architectural value of the building, as well as to preserve these well-loved structures for the people of Cape Ann and beyond. People come from all over to have their photos taken at the archways. If we had let them go with no repair, they could have crumbled and have been lost forever. We are so happy to have saved them.”
In a thanks to the city and the Community Preservation Committee, the museum will host a public event on Sunday, April 30.
“We wanted to hold a special celebration to thank the city of Gloucester and to welcome the community back to this special part of the museum,” said Harvey. “With this critical project ending, we can now look forward to all the celebrations and events coming this year. We are thrilled to once again to welcome the community into the museum as we have new exhibits and programs we’re excited to share.”
The museum is still working to raise the money needed to match the grant. Those interested in supporting this restoration and preservation can learn more at hammondcastle.org.
This year, the museum is once again offering Gloucester Gratis Days on Tuesdays, granting free admission on self-guided tours for Gloucester residents with proof of residency.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.