The post office's Joan Bates poses with the students in front of one of hte lanterns they refurbished.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The large lanterns that once lit the front steps of the post office decades ago are back in working condition thanks to students at McCann Technical School.
The lamps were hoisted into place in time for the building's 100th anniversary on Tuesday, which included presentations to McCann for their work and hand cancellations featuring an image of the post office by local graphic designer Keith Bona.
Senior Troy Segala and juniors James Sweet and Tyler Wojtkowski from the machine tech department at McCann were able to restore two of the existing three lanterns to working order. A fourth is missing and the third, beyond repair, was turned into an art piece (filled with pictures of the students installing its peers) in the main lobby.
"They came in pieces," said Sweet, who described the project as good experience. "It was difficult to make the pieces for the fixture so it would be level."
Segala said the material, cast aluminum, was difficult to work with — once heated the air bubbles inside came to the surface. Seriously deteriorated bits of scroll work had to be replicated and fitted.
"It's pieced together," he said. "But it came out good."
The students, instructor Ed Menard (also fellow instructor John Klein who wasn't there) received certificates with pictures of the building and a cancellation envelope from the post office and Mayor Richard Alcombright for their efforts. McClain Electric also had a hand in reinstalling the lights and replacing the deteriorated electrical wiring.
"McCann is close to my heart," said Alcombright, who spent 19 years on its School Committee. "It's a school that produces results. It used to be school to work, now it's also school to college, it's school to more technical training, it's school to military and it produces a great end product — these three gentlemen are proof of that."
Joan Bates, officer in charge of the post office, agreed. "I can't thank you enough for the North Adam post office ... the lights phenomenal, I couldn't ask for a nicer job."
Bates postmarks envelopes for Robin Moore.
A few people were at the open house this morning not to admire the lights or the displays of postal history, but to get envelopes postmarked with Bona's image. Bates said the post office had received five submissions for the cancellations that were good but Bona's stood out because it focused on the federal building.
Among those scooping up cancelled envelopes were Daniel Connerton, a former member of the Historical Commission and retired professor who recalled being photographed at another special cancellation years ago by Transcript photographer Randy Trabold.
"I came to get the stamps to put the envelopes in a frame," said Robin Moore, who had Bates hand stamp a bunch for her and Melvin Accetta, who was waiting outside. "It's because we live in North Adams."
Beverly Cardinal came from Adams for the postmark — an image of the Summer Street building with a new and very old mail truck flanking it.
"My husband and I are avid stamp collectors," she said. "It's really fun for both of us so I'm getting some for us and for friends. My husband (Joseph) was so excited."
Bates said the postmark is available through June 24. People can write to the post office at 67 Summer St. to receive a cancellation through the mail or ask at the desk. The prestamped envelopes being used are 54 cents.
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