American Graffiti

It was love, Jimmy.


“Jimmy has kissed me 8 times here on this vacation Feb 20, 1955”

You, your friends and half the youth of Norwell, Mass all snuck in and climbed the ladder up to the top floor of the old water tower on Pleasant Street.


It was a right of passage, making out and leaving your mark on the walls, no doubt.



But the bloom of love fades, and so did the frame and fixings of the tower, built over a hand-dug well and one of only a handful in the area.


Pret, always one to encourage romance, stabilized the frame from the sills on up, and replaced the upper floor where the water tank used to be.



The beefy joists are a mix of doug fir and yellow pine.

The sheathing was put back in place and newly sawn pine made the floors.



Peter cut in a hatch to the well. As of the last measure the water was 14′ deep.

Russ took on the challenge of shingling the works, once the frame was repaired.


The long corners have alternating seams. They are “woven”.

And restored windows, as they are want to do, changed the entire complexion of the structure.



Justin worked his OCD magic on the deck and railings.



The details of construction were based on old photographs of the building.


Our ladder was utilitarian-


-but the original “stairs” were in remarkable condition and happily re-used.




David (the home-owner), Peter and Pret taking it in. They left no graffiti.

With its new roof and a cheerful, if phallic, finial on top, there’s no reason this unique feature shouldn’t last for at least another 150 years.


circa 1940-ish


circa April-ish

And Jimmy?


He is still loved, last we saw.



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10 thoughts on “American Graffiti

  1. francedozois says:

    it looks great,nice job

  2. hiscarpentry says:

    That looks like it was more fun than a rat has in a cheese factory or more fun than a cat has on a fish truck.

    There is no greater satisfaction in like restoring something to its originally intended state.

    I will soon post an entry on restoring my circa 1728 home here

    • Rick says:

      The best part of the whole property is up on that balcony looking out. Maybe there’s a gin and tonic in hand, I don’t know. Check out the link to Nathan’s blog above, folks. He’s a talented dude showing em how it’s done in the 617.

  3. Tico Vogt says:

    Awesome work. How will the homeowner use it?

    • Rick says:

      Great to hear from you Tico. David, the homeowner, has listed the property for sale. He’s a true citizen of Norwell and this house and accompanying water tower will be a legacy for him. As for the water tower use, it’s wide open. Any thoughts? We added a 3/4 floor halfway up, which imo has added to the building’s charm. David’s putting electricity in as well.There have been rumors about the upper floor being used as a writer’s retreat in the past, and I can totally see that happening again. A hot tub might fit in there. where the water tank once stood. Maybe a pool table on the ground floor…or leave it somewhat spartan and let a kids’ imagination fill it in. It will be interesting to see how the new owners use the space.

  4. Linda Master says:

    Fascinating history! And beautiful work restoring it—

    • Rick says:

      Great to hear from you Linda! And much appreciated. It’s been a solid project with several hands on deck. Glad the homeowner had both vision and imagination to want to keep much of the historic fabric.

  5. Kelley says:

    You guys are awesome!

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