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Restoration of Ford Island Control Tower

May 17, 2022
Pearl Harbor Historic Landmark Restored

A silent witness to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Ford Island Control Tower at Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum will open to the public on Memorial Day 2022. After a decade of renovations and restorations, the tower stands tall today to honor and remember December 7, 1941, serving as an iconic symbol of America’s strength, sacrifice, and resilience.

In September 2010, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum began the restoration and renovation of the Ford Island Control Tower after decades of weather-related deterioration.

Read our blog diving into the renovation of this historic landmark in honor of the Ford Island Control Tower opening to the public on Memorial Day 2022.

Restoration Project

The Ford Island Control Tower restoration project began in 2010 with plans to stabilize and renovate the water tower, operations building, and grounds surrounding the structure.

The first phase of renovation included abating the tower and building of hazardous materials, repairing the steel structures around the water tower and observation level, and painting the exterior. The project closed and secured all openings, as well as reroofed all levels of the structure.

The second phase renovated the interior two stories of the Operations Building from the garage to the building’s roof. These floors have been restored and turned into administrative offices, a curatorial center, and a research library.

Aerological Tower Restoration

Restoration on the aerological tower walls and windows began in 2016.

Before restoration, the steel components throughout the structure including the tower skin, stairs, landings, ladders, beams, fascia and flanges were experiencing severe corrosion.

The aerological tower is now home to an in-depth exhibit on the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Operations Building Restoration

Before restoration, the Operations Building had been experiencing concrete spalling with severe rust on exterior windows. The windows and concrete needed repairing with renovations needed throughout the interior of the first and second floors.

Restoration on the first floor began in 2018 and now houses the Emily Buehler Perpetual Trust Library.

Restoration on the second floor began in 2020 and now houses offices and meeting areas.

Control Tower Stabilization and restoration
Untitled design (13)

Stabilization of the Ford Island Control Tower officially began Friday, February 25, 2011.

The stabilization and restoration process included replacing 53 tons of steel on the prominent 158-foot-tall, 15 foot diameter control tower.

Elevator Restoration

On March 23, 2022, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, the Naval Facilities Command, and Otis completed final inspections on the historic elevator, completing the renovation project. This work put the historic elevator safely back in service, allowing us open the tower to the public and transport visitors to the top of the tower.

The final safety inspection of the elevator included a rarely-performed acceptance test of the governor and car overspeed safety devices. All of the equipment is the original 1941 equipment, which has been repaired and renovated to meet modern safety standards.

Special Thanks for their Generous Support

Special thanks to the Shoen family, on behalf of U-Haul Company, for their generous gift, which provided the funds needed to complete restoration and activation of the control tower elevator, enabling the public to visit the towers upper deck.

Additional thanks to the State of Hawaii, Freeman Foundation, Historic Hawaii Foundation, James Gorman Family Foundation, U.S. Department of Defense, Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust, OFS Brands, Dave Lau and Sharon Elske, Alexander “Sandy” Gaston, Robert A. and Susan C. Wilson Foundation, The R.K. Mellon Family Foundation, CDR and Mrs. Edward P. Keough, Larry and Suzanne Turley, and many other generous donors for their support to help restore, preserve, and enhance this iconic landmark so that it will continue to chronicle the history of WWII for future generations.

The Ford Island Control Tower and the Top of the Tower Tour will open on Memorial 2022, opening this iconic landmark to the public for the first time in decades.

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