(peaceful guitar music) - The Tower was owned by the Heubleins from 1914 on to 1937, and that was when Gilbert died.
It was still retained by the family for another six years.
Fell into a little disrepair.
The Hartford Times owned it actually to the late 50s and three investors bought the tower.
They wanted to turn the Tower into a restaurant, build luxury homes and condominiums along the ridge.
People from both sides of valley or both sides of the ridge were a little upset at that and wanted to save the Tower, save the land.
They got the state involved.
The state was able to purchase it and they- the state turned it into a park.
(gentle guitar music and birds chirping) The Friends of Heublein Tower started in 1985 by Pat Heublein, who was married to one of the family members and she really wanted to help the state augment restoration repairs, maintenance.
We work with the state very well to try to help them.
They help us.
There are things that we can do that they can't do and vice versa.
So we try to help out as much as we can.
It was probably in 2015 that we had heard that the light had gone out, and we used to get calls that panic-stricken people from the valley.
"A plane's gonna hit the tower, you better change the light bulb."
- Beacon has been a fixture on the tower.
It was always the way you could tell how far away you were from home.
Having grown up in Simsbury, you always knew how far away I was by looking at the little red light on top of the Tower.
In 2015, the beacon went out.
There was some corrosion and water penetration, and the the beacon itself stopped functioning.
The friends, with help from the state, decided that was something that was important for the historic nature of the building to bring that light back.
And we raised the money that was necessary to replace the fixture and also to build the infrastructure, the stairway, to get up to the Tower.
We replaced it with a new modern LED bulb and we're very excited to restore that part of the Tower and bring that part of history back to Connecticut.
- Bringing light back to the beacon is something that we had always heard as a whisper of possibility when we were setting out on this venture.
To know that it's really bringing, you know, life anew into something which has always radiated beauty.
And, you know, to know that it's going to carry on, you know into the the darkness of night throughout the year.
It is really just sending out that pulse of life and knowing that not just the Tower but here we are at the foot of the Tower, you know, with doors open and a spirit for all to come and enjoy.
- The ceremony will be May 20th, an all day event, at Talcott Mountain Collective, which is right below the Tower.
And there are a bunch of bands, gonna be an all day event.
There'll be food, there'll be food trucks, beer and wine and you'll just be able to see, look up at the tower and shortly after sunset, we're gonna flip the switch.
- It's a long-time build here of a culmination of many efforts by the Friends of Heublein Tower to really flip the switch, as we're saying.
Light the beacon.
We've forged a great partnership and friendship with the friends, and we're using our platform to help them, you know, bring energy and to bring the people together who, you know, celebrate not just their cause, but just really the notion of coming together in good spirit, camaraderie and friendship and celebration.
And that's what this is, a true celebration.
- The beacon is an important element of the Tower that's been a symbol of home for people who can see the Tower.
The park itself is in four towns.
It's in Bloomfield and West Hartford, Avon, and Simsbury.
I think the Tower itself is iconic and it symbolizes Connecticut.
So bringing back the light actually brings the light back to the tower and to Connecticut as well.
So it's an important event.
- It's funny, you know, there are people that have lived here for so many years and they know that they're home when they either see the beacon or see the Tower, because that's a symbol of their home.
You know, they know that this is where they live.
Just the seeing of the Tower is gonna be one thing, but now they'll see the beacon and have that same recollection.
"Oh, well I'm home."