It’s every bit as real as the granite that hugs its broad trunk. But when the neighbors cast their eyes on the weathered, forlorn Fort Hill Tower, they see pure fairy tale, Rapunzel’s tower, to be specific.
“Right away, when I first saw it, I was like, ‘Hey, I know who lives there; it’s Rapunzel,’ ” says 22-year-old Mark Evans of Roxbury.
On a recent blustery afternoon, a chain-link fence guards the 133-foot tower’s perimeter, its windows clad in plywood. Like any self-respecting 144-year-old, the tower needs a bit of a face lift.
Boston’s Public Facilities Department is in the midst of painting the interior cast-iron stairs, repairing windows, and recoating the metal roof.
“The hope is to preserve the historic structure, and make it better suited to take on severe weather,” Parks and Recreation Department spokeswoman Jacque Goddard says. The work should be finished by midsummer.
“Out of everywhere, that tower is here. It’s so random,” says David Sanchez , 21, of Roslindale, sitting on a park bench beneath the tower on a recent day.
The tower perches on the rocky hill known as Roxbury High Fort, used by colonists during the Revolutionary War and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, the Register’s Kevin Moriarty said.
The tower was built to store water, but that lasted only a decade.
Howard Merlin lives in one of the brownstones flanking Fort Hill Tower. “We all wish we could go up there,” says Merlin, who like his neighbors, would one day like to clamber up the winding staircase to the summit and a spectacular view of the skyline. The tower, he says, always reminded him of something out of a Disney movie.
But there is no guarantee that Rapunzel’s view will be theirs. City officials are still trying to figure out if the tower will be reopened to the public.