A message from the Friends of Heublein Tower, Board of Directors President, Jay T. Willerup:
After a multi-year absence, I feel it’s time to get our newsletter back up and running again. The Friends of Heublein Tower have many things happening that are definitely newsworthy! We hope the pandemic will subside and Talcott Mountain State Park and the Heublein Tower will continue to be a favorite place for you to visit.
I’ll fill you in on some of our projects to keep an eye on.
Jay T. Willerup, President
Board of Directors
Friends of Heublein Tower
Upcoming Events – Mark your Calendars!
Hike to the Mic VIII:
Hike to the Mic returns to the grounds of the Heublein Tower Saturday & Sunday, August 27th & 28th, 2022 for the 8th year of this wonderful event. HttM is known as the premier family-friendly music and arts happening that will once again feature great local and regional musicians, food vendors, and a chance to see live music atop Talcott Mountain. This event will reward those who journey the trails to Talcott Mountain State Park and the Heublein Tower with great musical entertainment, fantastic food, and the “royal view” from the Tower grounds. The event is free to the public and funded by generous sponsors. Donations are also welcome from those who attend the event. There is still time to get involved as a sponsor and we always need volunteers to help. If you are interested in getting involved, please reach out.
You can check out www.hiketothemic.com for the latest info about HttM VIII!
The 32 Annual Tower Toot
Spring is just around the corner which means planning has started for this fall’s Tower Toot with dates set for Saturday & Sunday, October 15th & 16th, 2022. This year we are working with Kane’s Market of Simsbury to cater the two-day event. Activities and entertainment for all ages will be included. The musical duo, Scha-Musi returns with their fun-filled performance.
Light the Beacon
The Friends of Heublein Tower have embarked on a capital campaign to raise money to replace the red blinking beacon that was once situated within the top of the Tower’s cupola. The light had been there for years. Though not required by the FAA as an approach beacon to Bradley Airport, it was a symbol to those traveling by land or air, that when they saw that beacon, they knew where they were. My own young children commented that it was so Rudolph knew where we lived, and he could deliver our Christmas presents. Like many things, time has taken its toll. The light leaked and water was entering into the glass globe. This shorted out the bulb and it stopped working all together. We hope to raise $150,000 to install a new LED beacon and to renovate the internal access route to the cupola. The old beacon will be displayed on the fourth floor as part of the history of the Tower. Please contribute by making a donation. Once the beacon project is complete, any remaining funds will be applied to other capital improvement projects.
Observation Room Windows
The Tower is situated on Talcott Mountain at an elevation of nearly 1,000 feet above sea level. There are times when it is warm with no wind at ground level on both sides of the ridge, but not so at the Tower! It can be several degrees cooler up there with strong gusting winds from the west. That’s the exposure the Tower building feels. Therefore the exterior materials of the Tower have an accelerated life span. That means that the doors, windows, and “skin” of the building don’t last as long as they normally would. Case in point, the windows in the Observation Room (formerly the Heublein-era Ballroom) are not original to the Tower. They were installed when the State created the Talcott Mountain State Park and began renovating the Tower in the mid 1970s. These windows are now in need of replacement. DEEP, along with the Friends of Heublein Tower, are working together to install new windows that replicate the originals, meet current coastal wind requirements, and have a low maintenance exterior and white oak interior to match the original interior paneling and trim. It’s our hope that this will be completed for the opening of the Tower on Memorial Day weekend this year. We’ll keep you posted on the progress.
More than 10 years ago, on a ‘walk about’ with then co-president Kathryn Hoidge, we came across a water cistern in the woods. As she and I were discussing it, I stepped on a large diameter steel pipe laying on the ground. Thinking this may have been some of the original heating system, upon closer examination found there was a series of progressively smaller pipes, fit inside one another and connected into one long pipe. I paced it out at about 75 feet long. This wasn’t a heating pipe, we’d just found the original flagpole! We know there was originally a flagpole near the Tower, but we have no record of what happened to it. We have some pictures of it and know exactly where it was located. We have received approval from DEEP to restore the flagpole and put it back up. We’re working with Engineered Building Products in Bloomfield to refabricate the bent pieces, galvanize, paint, and re-erect the flagpole. Stay tuned as we progress with this very visible project.
A few years ago, we embarked on a project to recreate the original Servant’s Door on the south side of the lower level. We didn’t have any pictures of the original door, but we did have the original drawings. We used those to make a new door, frame, storm door, and transom. The fabrication was done by Kelly Williams of Century Woodworking and was installed by Linn Taylor. We have contracted with Kronenburger & Sons Restoration to recreate another door for us, the Boiler Room Door on the east side of the lower level. Here too, we are using the original drawings to best replicate this door. We hope to have this in place early this summer.
Heublein Family Tree
Years ago, we started to compile the Heublein Family ancestry from some of our archival documents. This year a few Heublein family members reached out to me through Facebook, wondering if we had any information about their family. Well, of course we do! I’ve been in contact with them and have now consulted with gifted genealogist Alison Maston to help bring the family tree up to date. We hope to have this on display for the Tower opening in May.
Observation Room Vista Maps
If you’ve been up to the Observation Room (Ball Room) and looked out the windows into the distance and wondered exactly what you were looking at, we’ve solved your problem! We’ve had local professional photographer Carl Vernlund photograph the views of the north, east, south, and west. We will be mounting those images just above the windows, and working with the Simsbury High School History Department to research and note all the interesting landmarks in the photographs. So, when you look out and wonder what something is, you will be able to look up and know exactly what you are looking at.
Friends of Heublein Tower Gift Shop
We are hoping to re-open the “Shop at the Top” on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays for the 2022 season. We will be re-stocking past favorites and looking for exciting new items with the Heublein Tower image. One item that is already in production is a new hiking medallion to adorn your hiking stick with a beautiful, full color, enameled image of the Tower.
The Heublein Tower used to get its water from Hoe Pond to the south. It was stored in a 30,000-gallon cistern under the Outdoor Dining Pavilion. It was then pumped into two smaller cisterns in the Tower basement.
Years ago, Board Member Bill Case’s daughter Jacy, came up with an idea for a new fundraising event. She sketched a path to the Tower and called it “Hike to the Mic”!
News from the Park Supervisor
The CT DEEP – Parks Department is looking forward to another incredible season for the Heublein Tower. We have many exciting projects coming up this year and are working hard to create a safe and enjoyable environment for the public. In preparation for the season the Parks Department will be hiring Environmental Protection Resource Assistants – Interpreters. These staff members are experts on the Heublein Tower and its history and we are very excited to bring on new crew members. Below, I have listed Talcott Mountain State Park Rules. Please hike safely and we look forward to seeing you and your family out on the trails!
If you have any questions about Talcott Mountain State Park and Heublein Tower, please contact the Penwood Office at (860) 242-1158. If you would like to hike up with a group of 25 or more, we’d appreciate advance notice at Penwood so we can have enough staff on hand to make your visit pleasant and informative.
Parks & Recreation Supervisor
Talcott Mountain State Park Rules
- Park Hours: 8AM to Sunset every day
- Heublein Tower Hours: 10AM to 4PM (Friday-Monday)
- Carry out what you carry in.
- NO Vehicular Access – Hike in ONLY.
- NO dogs, food, drinks, or walking sticks inside the Heublein Tower. (A storage spot is provided)
- Dogs must always be on a 6-foot leash.
- Parking Fee ($15) – Out of State Vehicles.
- Heublein Tower open Memorial Day to October 31st
- Gift Shop is open Saturdays and Sundays*
- NO ground fires, hammocks, amplified music.
- NO mountain bikes.
- Please pick up and properly dispose your dog waste.
- No drones allowed in CT State Parks.
- In case of Emergency: Call 911 or DEEP Emergency Dispatch: (860) 424-3333
* Depending on Volunteer Availability
Who are the Friends of Heublein Tower?
The Friends of Heublein Tower, Inc. is a non-profit preservation society. It was established in 1984, for the purpose of restoring for public use the State-owned Heublein Tower landmark to its authentic and original 1914 splendor.
Facebook: Friends of Heublein Tower, Inc
Friends of Heublein Tower
P.O. Box 991
Avon, Connecticut 06001
Friends of Heublein Tower – Board of Directors:
Jay T. Willerup, President
William Case, Vice President
Gregory Smith, Treasurer
Pam Simmons, Secretary
Carol Burnham, Member
Craig Hugel, Member
Lisa Hugel, Member
Kent Robbins, Member
Beth Volle, Member & Gift Shop Manager