The renovation work at the historic water tower located near the intersection of Zorn Avenue and River Road has entered its second phase and should be done early next year. The tower, built in the Classical-Revival style between 1858 and 1860, is reported to be the oldest ornamental water tower in the world, yet has been deteriorating for years at its site along the Ohio River. The Louisville Water Company last year embarked on a complete rehabilitation of the white tower and already the results are incredible.
Before, detailed woodwork was rotting and falling off (see before photo below), and now the woodwork has been restored and repainted and looks almost new. The brickwork at the base of the tower which was also literally falling off has been repaired. The tower now has an interesting look with a red brick base surrounded by white columns and a white tower. The brick will be repainted white in the end, however, to create the illusion of a single white tower. The tower also features ten white statues that have been removed for rehabilitation.
In 1890, a tornado snapped the tower in two and destroyed all but two of the ornamental statues. The tower was subsequently rebuilt and new statues fashioned representing Greek and Roman deities along with an Indian hunter and his dog. Shortly after it was rebuilt, a new pumping facility in Crescent Hill was complete, making the old tower obsolete. During World War II, the tower nearly met its demise as plans were drawn together to scrap the tower for the war effort. Luckily, the plan fell through and only a metal spiral staircase was sent to the war effort.
Currently, an elaborate system of scaffolding is going up around the tower and work will progress repairing its top. The old pumping station just behind the tower is home to the Louisville Visual Arts Association and is also in need of a few repairs but will have to wait a few years after the tower is complete before work is scheduled to begin on its own rehabilitation. The repairs at the water tower are expected to cost around $825,000. The Louisville Water Company has also spent $4.2 million to rehabilitate its Crescent Hill pumping facility including the replacement of its slate roof.
- Louisville Water Tower (Wikipedia)
- Louisville Water Company (Official Site)
- Louisville Visual Arts Association (Official Site)