HALIFAX -- Scaffolding surrounds Saint John's iconic Carleton Martello Tower National Historic Site as the over 200-year-old stone structure receives much-needed renovations. Nearly four years after federal funding was pledged, work is underway to restore the city’s iconic landmark.

"It did need a facelift," says Saint John Deputy Mayor, Shirley McAlary, of the $13.5M rehabilitation project funded by the federal government.

"They've been preparing for it for a few months now,” says McAlary. “But the thing is, we would have never had the money as a city by itself."

The Carleton Martello Tower is a designated national historic site --- but the structure has seen better days. Parks Canada says investigative work in 2015 showed the tower was in a state of 'critical failure.'

"What I've read, and having worked there in the past; the issue is water getting in through the roof and compromising the brick-work,” says New Brunswick Historical Society Board Member, Greg Marquis. “So, I think that's a problem that has to be stopped."

The tower was built by the British government between 1812 and 1815 to defend Saint John during the War of 1812 and was built in a strategic location – more than 200ft above sea level.

"During World War Two, it was used as a fire control centre to coordinate all the harbour defences, including the guns out at Mispec,” says Marquis. “So, it was very important during World War Two in terms of coastal artillery and harbour defences."

And the renovations will be a significant benefit, as McAlary says the tower is a big draw for tourists.

"Over the years, you know, the weather and everything takes a toll on the tower,” says McAlary. “It's a large number of people in visiting that you need to keep these facilities well maintained."

Meanwhile, construction is expected to continue until December 2020.