Restoration work on the U.S. Life Saving Station 30 at Fourth Street and Atlantic Avenue is proceeding, and the historic building is now resting on a strengthened foundation 8 inches higher than its predecessor.
The entire structure had been elevated to allow the foundation work, and the completion of that phase marks a milestone in the development of a maritime museum that will re-create the era between 1885 and 1915 when the men of Station 30 rescued ships and sailors in distress and provided shelter and medical assistance on a what was then a remote coastline.
There's some possibility that restoration work could be complete by summer 2014, but because of strict guidelines governing work on historic structures, it's hard to predict, according to John Loeper, chairman of the nonprofit U.S. Life Saving Station 30.
Loeper said the group already is collecting artifacts for the museum, and on Wednesday received a Lyle gun in pristine condition. Lyle guns were used to fire rescue lines over the surf and onto ships foundering offshore.
The working cannon could be used to put on demonstrations for Ocean City visitors who would be able to witness a mock rescue, Loeper has said.
The U.S. Life Saving Service was a precursor to the modern Coast Guard.
Though the station sits two long blocks and a quarter-mile from the beach, it has never moved. In its day, the station was on the beach. The same storms in the early 1900s that eroded 10 blocks of Longport deposited sand on the north end of Ocean City, according to Loeper.
The city bonded for nearly $1 million to purchase the property in 2010 and end a decade-long battle to save the station from demolition.
The city has also funded $750,000 to match New Jersey Historic Trust Grant for the restoration of the building. The nonprofit group has promised to reimburse the city for the full cost of the restoration and developing the museum.
Restoration work includes the foundation work and replacement of the roof, windows and porch of the historic building.