US Navy

The Washington Navy Yard recently reclaimed a piece of its illustrious past with the restoration of the Watch Box, a small, wood-framed Victorian building that served as a sentry post beginning in the 1850s. President Abraham Lincoln visited the Navy Yard late in the day on April 14, 1865, most likely making the Watch Box one of his last official stops before his fateful visit to Ford's Theatre that evening. More

W.F. Magann Corporation was subcontracted by Summit Construction to assist in relocating the Watch Box, a historic structure at NSF Indian Head (a naval research facility in Maryland) that once guarded the Washington Navy Yard during the Civil War.

A historic structure that Abraham Lincoln would often visit, the Watch Box played a vital role in keeping the Navy Yard secure and it remains to this day as the only surviving example from that period of time. As part of the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, the Navy decided to restore the structure and return it the Navy Yard where it originally belonged.

To complete the job, Ayers House Movers, another subcontracted construction company, needed to lift the structure from its foundation and move it to the waterfront, where W.F. Magann Corporation would load it onto their barge and float it up the river to the Washington Navy Shipyard.  Upon arrival in Washington D.C, the Watch Box would need to be loaded back on land for Ayers to transport inside the shipyard.

But of course, there were challenges to be had along the way.

A complex relocation and restoration effort has returned the guard house to its original site, so that it can help educate visitors about the Civil War. We partnered with the Navy and Summit Construction to coordinate the complex transport.

Nearly 150 years after President Abraham Lincoln came to the Washington Navy Yard to visit his friend, Yard Commander Rear Adm. John Dahlgren, the same Watch Box he passed through and checked in at was returned to the Navy Yard, April 16.

With support from Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Washington, the historic Watch Box, originally built in 1853-1854, was moved back to the Navy Yard after spending more than 100 years at Naval Support Facilities (NSF) Indian Head.