SEMRECC Building History
The site and building where the SEMRECC headquarters is today is proud of a long history and legacy of service and technological pioneering.
A New Deal
The 1930's saw a surge of public works and infrastructure projects as part of the New Deal. The CCC was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal that provided manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state, and local governments. The CCC was designed to provide jobs for young men and to relieve families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression in the United States. Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000. Through the course of its nine years in operation, three million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a wage of $30 (equivalent to $590 in 2019) per month ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families)
One notable public works project undertake by the CCC was the development of what is now known as F. Gilbert Hills State Forest. A main attraction of F. Gilbert Hills State Forest was the High Rock area at the summit of the large hill. High Rock Road, which led from RT 1 up what is now a utility corridor and trail, was known for its breathtaking views of Boston and designed to make park patrons feel as if they were being hoisted into the clouds. The road that is currently named High Rock Road was originally paved in the 1960's, but has many feature left behind by the CCC such as the drainage system. Today's High Rock Road, from RT 1 to Granite Street, used to be part of the Bristol / Providence Toll Road. The CCC also installed many other features in the park and in the High Rock Area, such as staircases, picnic areas and fire pits/BBQs. Some of these features were lost to time, but many still stand today.
An undated photo of a CCC work party
The F. Gilbert Hills Forest in now in the capable hands of the Massachusetts DCR who provide stewardship, maintenance and repair to the park and trails. This park is under the management of Tom Ashton (pictured far left) and his team of DCR employees and several civic organizations.
The First Tower
As part of the State's development of the High Rock Reserve park (now part of F. Gilbert Hills), the state committed to building a fire watch tower at the summit. The park is a conglomeration of previously privately owned properties. These properties were used largely for granges, sheep grazing areas, a shipping route and a granite quarry. A major reforesting effort was taken on, predicating the need for a forest fire watch tower.
“The new sixty-foot fire tower on High Rock is nearing completion. The work has been done by the men of the C. C. C. The glass-enclosed observation room at the top of the tower will be occupied during the period from April to October next year, by a man whose duty it will be to detect forest fires and notify the fire fighting forces where the blaze is located. By triangulating with maps and instruments these observers locate the blazes with amazing accuracy.”
The original 60' Aeromotor tower was constructed in 1934 by the CCC. In 1951 At&t purchased the land and moved the tower to the site where the current Dover fire tower is. The tower than moved from Foxborough to Dover was ironically destroyed by a lightning in 1984, although rebuilt.