Historic weather tower erected on waterfront

Published 10:09 pm Monday, August 5, 2013

The city of Washington added a piece of history to the waterfront landscape Monday afternoon.
Washington’s coastal-warning display tower, a 50-foot tower that warned of local weather conditions long before there was a National Weather Service, was placed on permanent display in Festival Park.
Washington resident and historian Ray Midgett said he was excited to finally see the tower on display.
“I’ve been here eight years and the first time I saw it, I said, ‘We need to move it to the waterfront,’” he said.
Estuarium Facility Manager Blount Rumley said efforts had been made to move the tower, which stood in the back yard of a Main Street residence until a few months ago.
“I don’t think it really took off and the owner at the time wasn’t really interested in parting with it,” he said. “But, this was the right time and the right place.”
Current homeowners Jim and Kelli Miller offered to donate the tower to the city. The City Council accepted the offer in April. The city covered the costs of moving and restoring the tower.
“I want to thank the Washington City Council for agreeing to accept the new tower and allowing us to put it up on the waterfront in front of the Estuarium,” Midgett said. “It’s part of our maritime history.”
The tower is at least 113 years old. Only a handful of them still exist in North Carolina. It used lights at night and flags during the day to warn mariners of approaching storms.
The flags will soon fly again. The Washington Harbor District Alliance donated funds to purchase new flags. The Carolina Wind Yachting Club and West Marine donated the rope and hardware to fly flags that indicate current weather conditions.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Dee Congleton of the Washington Area Historical Foundation. “Another piece of our history being put on the waterfront.”