Workers are in the final stretch of repairing and renovating the Echo Park Lake Boathouse, the 80-year-old, Spanish Colonial building on the eastern shore of the lake. The job, which is separate from the approximately $65 million lake clean up now underway, included the installation of all new plumbing and electrical systems, including a new restaurant kitchen, as well as the repair and restoration of old windows, doors and walls. But perhaps the most challenging part of this $1.3 million project was the repair of the approximately 35-foot-high lighthouse that rises above the red-tile roof of the boathouse. Not only did workers have to repair the tower’s historic features, including a copper collar and wood windows that had been covered with stucco, but they also had to straighten the tower, which was found to be leaning between two to three inches in the direction of the water, said project manager Ohaji K. Abdalla with the city’s Bureau of Engineering.
“It was in terrible shape,” Abdalla said. “The plaster was holding up the tower on one side.”
Part of the problem was that the tower and boathouse would literally bump into each other during earthquakes, taking a toll on the structures. In addition, the tower sustained damage from water and birds that entered through the lighthouse windows, which would be left open at times. “The pigeon poop was quite bad in there,” Abdalla said.
As part of the project that began a year ago, the tower and boathouse were carefully connected together at the floor and roof to prevent the lighthouse from leaning and to allow both structures to move together in the same direction during quakes. “We pushed it back and connected the tower to the boathouse,” Abdalla said. Workers also improved the seal around the windows to prevent leaks and replaced plexiglass windows with frosted glass.
The tower’s new copper collar and glass are currently peeking from behind scaffolding as workers apply new stucco and paint – a shade of sand – to the exterior of the boathouse. Work on the entire 1,485-square foot boathouse is scheduled to be finished next month but the building will not open until the park clean up and rehabilitation is completed sometime next year. Once work on the building is complete, the city will focus on finding a concessionaire to open a cafe and rent boats.
The lighthouse tower will remain closed to the public but will once again shine as a symbol of the neighborhood, Abdalla said.