coast defense

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Destroyed Structures

The Nantasket peninsula had several fire control buildings and radars that have since been destroyed, leaving almost no visible traces. This section describes these sites.

Located northeasterly down the hill from the tall fire control tower was Location 120, one of the most important in the network of harbor defenses. It was the site of a three-story fire control and command building with an SCR-682 harbor surveillance radar dome on top, a small one-story fire control bunker northeast of that, and an SCR-269A fire control radar down the street. As Slide #5 in the top gallery shows, the bunkers were likely located on what are now the lots of a pair of beautiful new homes. And indeed the owners of these homes report that beneath their totally re-graded properties there lurk masses of hard-to-destroy reinforced concrete pads and retaining walls. The basement of the mauve house to the south (on the right in Slide #6) reportedly contains reminants of the foundations of Building 2A and a "gun position" (likely a concrete pedistal mount for one of the observation instruments from the 1920s).

The larger (square) building (Location 120-2A) contained in its 3rd story "attic" a cramped rangefinding station (DPF) for Battery Gardner in Nahant. Its 2nd story housed the Battery Control station for the 16-inch guns of nearby Battery Long on Hog Island plus a spotting station for the Harbor's South Command. Its 1st floor housed a spotter for Battery Long and also the South Command post itslef. The smaller bunker (Location 120-3A) housed a spotter for Battery 206 in Nahant plus a position that had been intended to spot for the 16-inch guns at Ft. Dawes (which were canceled during the war).

As the drawings in the gallery to the left show, these two bunkers had some of the most creative design features in the entire harbor defense system, with faux windows and garage doors scribed into their solid concrete walls.

Corps of Engineers records show that various fire control structures had been maintained in this immediate area since before 1909. Fire destroyed one of these early stations, and the structure was rebuilt in the 1920s into a very large two-story lookout with a 40 ft. by 70 ft. footprint. This was further modified in the 1930s and 1940s into the designs shown in the gallery at left.

The SCR-296A fire control radar, atop a 50 foot tower with its antenna platform sitting about 150 ft. above sea level, was located three houses south down Bluff Road from the southerly of the two houses now occupying the plot that used to hold Buildings 2A and 3A. A quick walking inspection of this property did not reveal any traces of the radar tower or its outbuildings. A small residence now occupies the tower lot, and the tower itself apparently had its center under the back porch of this home.

Strawberry Hill

A final Hull area fire control station was built about a mile and a quarter south along the peninsula at Strawberry Hill. This small 12 foot-square bunker spotted for the two 6-inch guns of Battery Whipple at Ft. Standish on Lovell's Island. All traces of this structure are now gone, but a nearby house is apparenly a re-sided version of a station from the 1920s that preceeded the WW2 bunker (and also did fire control for Battery Whipple, as well as for the 12-inch disappearing guns of Battery Stevenson at Ft. Warren on George's Island).

An additional SCR-269A fire control radar (Set #23) had been planned for this site (Location 116) but was cancelled during WW2 after the tower piers and outbuildings had already been put in place. The cancellation was apparently due to the decision to cancel the completion of the 16-inch guns at Ft. Dawes.

Strawberry Hill is not to be confused with Strawberry Point, a very extensive group of fire control positions farther to the south in Scituate, MA.

Pt. Allerton Locations

  • Area Plan 1945
    Plan shows the location of the two fire control observation buildings and the SCR-296A fire control radar, all on Bluff Road. Strawberry Hill, further south on the peninsula, is also shown.
  • 1945 Overlay
    This plan shows the positions of the larger (square) fire contol and radar station (Building 2A), with the smaller one-story bunker(Building 3A) off to its northeast. This is the plan which was rotated and superimposed over the modern Google Map in Slide #5 below.
  • Google Map
    This contemporary Google Map shows the two houses along Bluff Road that have been built atop the old foundations of the destroyed Buildings 2A and 3A. North is at left in this view.
  • Mark Map
    This map, rotated so north is at top, comes from the Scaredy Cat Benchmark Viewer, a mapping utility that displays pins that locate the positions of geodetic marks. The two red "A" pins furthest east mark the locations of the observation instruments in Building 3A. The more numerous white pins mark the locations of older (pre-1940) instruments in Building 2A (or its precursor structure/s). Note that the orientation of all these instruments is towards the northeast, making it hard for them to take advantage of the sweeping view to the south.
  • Overlayed Map Cropped
    This illustration roughly indicates the likely positions of the destroyed WW2 buildings in relation to current features at the site. The 1945 map was roughly rotated and scaled by hand in Photoshop, then overlayed on the Google Map. This generally confirms what the residents of these houses have told me--that the old buildings were located between their houses. Some of the Building 2A foundations are said to be visible in the basement of the house at right, and the owner of the house at left has encountered part of a reinforced concrete retaining wall between the houses. Today the topography has been radically changed by excavation and fill at the sites, and the overlay indicates that the seaward bank (which drops off sharply about 100 ft.) has been severely eroded since 1945.
  • Bunker View Easterly
    Buildings 2A and 3A were located between and overlapping with the modern footprints of these two homes on Bluff Road. The "crow's nest" on the house at left (which has views of about 270 degrees from Strawberry Point around to downtown Boston) mimics the tall fire control tower, behind and to right here. (PG 2010)
  • Bunker View Southerly
    In this view, the edge of the bluff is at left, with a tiny view of Nantasket Beach. Building 3A was approximately where the central rock wall is in this image, with Building 2A spreading over the white fence and part of the mauve house at top. (PG 2010)
  • Nantasket Beach
    A few steps to the southwest from the view in Slide #7, this slide looks southerly over Nantasket Beach, the former home of Paragon Park. As previously noted, the northeasterly orientation of the observation buildings would have likely restricted them from this view. (PG 2010)
  • 2A Elev North
    This building looks to have been one of the more elegant in the Harbor Defenses. Note that building has solid concrete walls wrapping around its seaward (northwesterly) side--the "windows" indicated there were scribed on the concrete for camouflage purposes. The generator on the easterly side likely provided back-up power for the SCR-682 harbor surveillance radar equipment in the basement. The radome shows inside the "widow's walk" on the roof. This was one of only two harbor surveillance radars at Boston Habor--the other was at the Harbor Entrance Control Post (HECP) at Ft. Dawes on Deer Island.
  • 2A Elev South
    The section at left more clearly shows the two levels of slitted observation windows in the seaward side of the bulding, plus the upper slitted windows in the "attic," just beneath the radome.
  • Site 2A Lower
    The left side of these drawings is the northeasterly side. The plan shows the radar transmitting equipment in the basement. The small room adjacent to the left probably held the receivers, scopes, and radar operators.
  • Site 2A Upper
    The "attic" observation position, only eight and a half feet square, was probably one of the smallest in the Harbor.
  • 3A Bunker
    This tidy little bunker, oriented toward the northeast, was meant to be camouflaged as a "garage."
  • SCR-24 Plot Plan
    This fire control radar was mounted on a 50-foot tower and located a few houses down the street on Bluff Road (the "macadam road" indicated on the left side). Today the base of the tower appears to overlap with the back porch of a small dwelling. No traces remain of the radar site.
  • SCR-24-Elevation
    The radar antenna was meant to be camouflaged as a water tower tank. The 64-foot tower and "tank" sat atop piers with an elevation of 98 feet above sea level.