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Save the Rock Tower

The Initiative

 The Atkinson Common Rock Tower has been aging into disrepair. The Save the Rock Tower Commission would like to take Atkinson Common's Rock Tower back to the future.  


Some visitors to the park think the Tower was once a jail because of the iron bars on the windows and dungeon look. City officials say it was once an observation tower from which the Merrimack River could be seen.   Today, it is the backdrop for many local photography sessions. It's an interesting backdrop from afar but if you come in close, you will see the decay. Crumbling stone with rotted and rusted out stairs no longer safe to ascend. 


It has become a dumping ground for bottles and cans and trash that are thrown through the bars but cannot be cleaned up since the doors are welded shut for safety. The Tower sits as an ugly contrast to the rest of the park.


The rooftop has been leaking which is causing most of the erosion to the inside of the tower. It has started to crumbling and if it is not restored it will eventually need to be torn down.


In March 1917, William Swasy, a local philanthropist provided funds to build a wooden observation tower. It was't long before Newburyport's winters weakened the structure. In 1935, the federal Emergency Relief Administration furnished the labor of approximately seventy men to begin constructing the tower. The Belleville Improvement Society provided the materials which included: 6,000 feet of lumber, five tons of structural steel, 154 tons of stone, 138 cubic yards of gravel and sand and 892 bags of cement.  The Rock Tower was completed in the late fall of 1936.


Atkinson Common is a park used actively by many visitors for leisurely walks, dog walking, running, tennis and family gatherings. As well as a destination for events such as weddings, school trips and social functions in the community. It is also a sought after destination for the backdrop of many photography sessions in all seasons.


A generous donation from a trust has jumpstarted the funds required to restore the RockTower and rebuild the interior steps so that all visitors can climb to the top for a view of the river. But, we need help in raising the rest of the money to complete the project and bring the Rock Tower back into use. 


Please help preserve this landmark amid one of city's most picturesque parks. Make donations to The Belleville Improvement Society's Save the Rock Tower Fund. All of the money will be used for the costs directly related to the restoration of the Rock Tower.


All donations are appreciated.  For donations of $250 or more; your name, or a name you choose, will be displayed within the Rock Tower as a part of the restoration. Help save the Rock Tower today.


The Belleville Improvement Society was formed in 1893, as a volunteer, nonprofit organization that helps maintain, preserve and beautify Atkinson Common. It is a certified 501(c)3 charitable organization. All donations are tax deductible. A tax receipt will be provided for your records. 

Progress to Date

Save the Rock Tower Kick-off Celebration

An event was held in the park on June 23, 2018 with live music from the Nowhere Men, a local Classic Car Show, Metz's Taco Truck, a raffle and Newburyport Brewing Company. A big thank you to all off you from the community who came out to join and support this effort. 

Phase 1: COMPLETE - Assessment and Debris Removal

The first phase of the tower condition assessment is underway. The existing rotted stairs and railings have been removed and the tower has been cleaned and removed of all debris. Local Architects and Engineers are currently engaging with a building contractor to install ladder access and perform exploratory testing on the existing internal steel structure and concrete slabs. 

Next Phase: Stabilization and Restoration Plan

Scaffolding was erected to assess the current conditions of the tower and remove the debris

The tower has been exposed to the elements for years and  the existing steel and reinforcing capabilities need to be confirmed. Once the existing conditions assessment is complete a phased stabilization and restoration plan will be created. Stay tuned for more updates as we move through this process.

Back to the Future Visit

Doc, aka City Councillor Charlie Tontar, formulating a plan to Save the Rock Tower.

Local Kids Pitching in to Help

Middle schoolers, Holly, Olivia, Avery and Tara pitched in with fresh squeezed lemonade and cookies. All proceeds were donated to the fund.

A Big Thank You to the Supporters of the Kick-off Event

We would like to thank Glenn and April Livermore who donated their time and took all of these great photos, as well as The Nowhere Men, Metzy's Taco Truck, Newburyport Brewing Company, local Classic Car owners and all who showed up for support.

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