Beginning in 1914, the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, led by Guglielmo Marconi, constructed the buildings as part of a 13-acre campus on Ryder’s Cove to serve as a twenty-four hour, seven day a week, trans-Atlantic and ship-to-shore wireless station. The four masonry buildings; the Operations Building, the Hotel, and two Residences, were designed and built by J.G. White Engineering Co. and constructed in the Craftsman Bungalow style.
After WWI, the campus was acquired by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and continued to operate into the 1990’s, including being occupied by the US Navy during WWII as a secret station to intercept German communications. The site was acquired by the Town in the 1990’s and remained unoccupied.
All four buildings were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994 and were in need of exterior rehabilitation in order to protect the buildings and allow the Town of Chatham to re-occupy and/or lease all of the buildings in the near future. Recognizing that the best long-term approach for historic preservation of the structures was to re-purpose them, CBI was hired to assess the conditions and propose improvements including associated cost estimates.
CBI evaluated the existing conditions and found that each of the buildings required extensive building envelope repairs and replacements in order to protect the structures and keep them water-tight.
It was determined that all of the roofs required replacement, with new copper flashing, gutters, downspouts and new underground drywells. Many areas of water infiltration through the brick masonry were also observed. The brick masonry required substantial re-pointing and some brick replacement, and were protected with a clear-sealer. The original doors and windows were in fair condition and were able to be salvaged and restored.
With the buildings now restored, the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center (CMMC), a non-profit organization, opened a museum and educational center in the Operations Building. CBI provided additional design services to add a handicap entrance to the facility. Most recently, the Town of Chatham also leased the first floor of the Hotel Building to CMMC, and the 2 residences may soon be re-purposed.