Gloucester City, NJ was one of the first settlements on the Delaware River. Originally named Fort Nassau, early Dutch settlers transformed the small trading and transportation port into an industrial hub. With industry came investment, entertainment, and fine architecture. In 1869, Gloucester City dedicated a new City Hall, which stood for 70 years until it was demolished in 1939 to pave the way for the current city hall (now the Police Administration Building) that was built in the 1940s.
Flash forward another 70 years,and Gloucester City’s new City Hall was in need of repair: its two weather-worn cupolas were in danger, nearly deteriorated past the point of recovery. As members of the local historical commission, Bellweather Construction worked with the city to save the two cupolas rather than replace them with vinyl, pre-fabricated ones.
Structurally, the cupolas were sound. We inspected the structure from the attic and both cupolas were well built. However, the exterior cladding was deteriorated. We used a penetrating liquid epoxy to stave off wood decay in the worst areas. The epoxy solidified the severely rotted wood, even in the dry, friable areas. The cupolas were finished with a durable butyl caulk, oil based primer, and two coats of Sherwin-Williams “Duration” exterior finish paint.
Now, “like new,” the cupolas atop Gloucester City Hall are a reminder of the city’s past as the county seat of Old Gloucester County and its growth from a fishing community to a global port city.
*Historic photos courtesy of “Images of America: Gloucester City,” by Gabriel and Adrienne Parent with the Gloucester City Historical Society.