WESTERN SPRINGS WATER TOWER
The historic Western Springs Water Tower was constructed in 1892. On December 12, 1891, the village president at the time, Mr. Wickerson, sought the village's right to place a water tower on land that had been originally known as "Block A." On January 27, 1892, Charles and Ruth Collins donated this land, Block A, to the village of Western Springs.
The design and construction of the Tower was a collaboration between Benzette Williams and Edgar Williams of the firm of Williams and Williams (which later became known as MacRichie and Nichol) and Ethan Philbrick. All three were civil engineers and residents of Western Springs. Benzette Williams and Ethan Philbrick eventually served as village presidents.
The cost of the Tower combined with the sewer and pumping system as well as the pumping station was $79,119.10. 156 carloads of stone were ordered from the Chicago and Naperville Stone Company. Each stone was cut and shaped by hand on site. The Tower was constructed to be 112.5 feet high at its tallest point and 36.5 feet in diameter. The walls at its base are 6 feet thick and the original water tank held 133,000 gallons of water. The Tower itself served as the village offices, police department, jail and police magistrate court until 1968, when all were moved to a new administration building at 740 Hillgrove Avenue.
On April 10, 1981, the Tower was added to the National Register of Historic Places, as one of the few municipal water towers that also housed the offices of government.
At 1:00 am on August 30, 1991, lightening struck the roof of the Tower and sparked a fire which smoldered until 5:00 am when commuters reported 30 foot flames. The water tank was punctured and is no longer capable of holding water. Fortunately, firefighters were able to cover many of valuable items on exhibit in the Historical Museum section of the Tower with a tarp, thereby preventing them from being lost in the blaze or damaged by water. After two years of repair and restoration, the Museum reopened in 1993. The Children's Museum now located within the Tower opened in 1995.
For more information, go to www.westernspringshistory.org
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