It was a magnificent sight to behold as a new cupola soared skyward on June 17. It soared with its bronze and copper eagle perched inside the peaked roof. It soared with its glistening copper roof. It soared as a symbol of what can be accomplished when people come together and share talents, resources, and time. Rochester’s Plumb Library wears its new cupola with pride as a work of art in the historic village center.
But let’s back up to how this truly elegant piece of engineering and design came to be.
Library Director Gail Roberts told The Wanderer, “The project came about because the old cupola, which was original to the building and built in 1976, leaked and sometimes the rain would pool up in the attic and would drip down into the library. Not good! Andrew Daniel, Rochester’s Facilities Manager, explored it and found that it was open to the attic underneath, as the original idea was to have a light in the cupola. He suggested that we get a new cupola in the style of the old one, and that he would close up the space underneath it.”
After looking into the cost to replace the cupola, it quickly became apparent that a new one was out of the question. “It was cost prohibitive,” Daniel said.
Daniel said that the cost for a new cupola was about $14,000. “There was no way the town could do it.” Daniel knew of the skills and cooperative climate at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School as he had worked with the students and instructors there on other town projects. He approached the school about building a new cupola, and Daniel said, “They saved the day.” Yet the school alone, even with the town’s assistance, couldn’t get this job done.
Daniel spearheaded collaboration between OCRVTHS carpentry shop and businessman Richard Miranda, owner of Diversified Roofing Systems located in New Bedford.
Miranda heard through a mutual acquaintance that the town needed some help and that Old Colony was willing to build the wooden structure. Miranda donated copper sheeting for the roof and the technical expertise to apply the metal to the multifaceted roofline.
“I went to the old Apponequet High School. They had shops back then. My grandfather always told me do whatever you want, but have a trade to fall back on,” Miranda shared. With that sage advice, Miranda did two things: he followed his heart, and he developed a successful trade and business. On staff, Miranda also has a graduate of Old Colony. He is paying it forward both in terms of sharing knowledge and resources while honoring his grandfather’s memory.
“We did the copper work,” Miranda said of the shiny new copper-covered roof the cupola sports. “It’s a dying art,” he demurred. He said the students were very helpful and willing to learn. “We spent the whole day teaching the kids – I even shut off my phone,” he said with a chuckle. “It took about one hundred man hours to do the copper because of the angles,” he said.
Carpentry instructor Douglas Sims, who took over the project that was started by retiring instructor Stu Norton, said the students built the wooden structure using rough drawings provided by Daniel. He said the students also worked with manufacturer’s instructions for the tricky part of installing the four window sections. Of the day spent working at Miranda’s shop, Sims said, “The five students didn’t want to leave!” Norton said that opportunities such as this are beneficial, “Kids get to learn with very little cost to the school.”
Daniel said he was going to try to install the cupola himself in three pieces. Miranda once again provided vital support. Miranda donated hours to the installation of the finished piece with a team of workers and a very large crane that hauled the cupola up and onto the library roof peak. Daniel said that the new cupola’s appearance was in keeping with the aesthetics of the other buildings in the town’s historic center. He also beamed with pride, “I repaired the eagle.”
Roberts thanked everyone for all they had done to make this project come together, “We couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help. Now we’re good for another hundred years.”
By Marilou Newell