Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bremen Water Tower, part 2

An article in the Bremen Enquirer on October 21, 1892 celebrated the new water works completed by the town which included the historic "standpipe". Touting the town’s progressive approach to public water service the article headline states “Bremen sends greetings to her sister towns with the injunction-Go and Do Likewise”. The only other Marshall County community with a public water system at that time was Plymouth, the county seat, who had established a system in 1888. Discussions for the Bremen system began early in 1891 and townspeople were invited to vote to show their support for the system. An overwhelming majority voted in favor of a public water system and the town board pursued the development of engineering drawings.

The project included an engine house which was constructed on the east side of North Center Street, just south of the fork of the Yellow River. The land was purchased from E. J. Thompson and was “cleared of all rubbish, filled up and beautified so that it will make a fine park in a few years.” The work on the ground was completed by John Foltz, who became the water works engineer. This land became a park in the early part of the 20th century and today is known as Shadyside Park. The engine house was a simple gable-front building constructed out of wood with Stick-style eave brackets and decorative trusses in the gables. A tall smokestack was located in the roof’s ridge. James Madden is listed as the contractor; however Samuel Lebr, George Shock, and John Bixler are credited with the carpentry work. Painting of the building was completed by C. E. Koontz and H. A. Place. The building was called “beautiful” and its workmanship “first class in every respect”. The supply of water was generated from pumps connected to seven artesian wells without the use of cisterns for storage. The boiler in the engine house was supplied by Madden with the inscription “Bremen Water Works, James Madden Contractor, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1892”. The engine house was replaced with a new electrical powerhouse in 1937. It was a Works Progress Administration project and is located at 123 East Mill Street, just north of the former location. That building is still in use by the town. The standpipe was constructed on South Jackson Street, approximately three blocks north and one block west of the engine house near the center of the historic commercial district. The standpipe was designed with some embellishments that include Gothic arched doorway and window openings and a decorative railing crowning the top of the tank. The brick for the tower’s base came from Nappanee and the masonry work was completed by masons from Goshen and Nappanee.

The newspaper article celebrating the completion of the water works described the extension of the pipe line along the town’s principle streets and hydrants being placed so that with the amount of fire hose the town owns any house can be reached in case of fire. The water works were put into operation on August 11th and at the time of the article on October 21, 1892 over 100 people were being served. It was estimated within another year’s time every house would be connected to the system. The article predicts that the water works would attract strangers to the community and a new era of prosperity would be opened for the community. The construction of the radiator manufacturing facility north of the railroad tracks was touted as a direct benefit of the new water works system.

A new water tank on the west side of the town was put into service in 1956; however the historic standpipe had become a landmark for the community and was left intact. In 1975 the standpipe was named an American Historic Water Landmark and between 1988 and 1989 the Town of Bremen fully restored the structure. The standpipe’s image is continually used by community organizations and the municipality as an icon for the Town of Bremen.


Mark Alan Smith said...

Kurt--As I understand it, Delphi sported one of those vertical stand-pipe types of water towers until 1924, and then a newer style was constructed, which has since been demolished. Both are visible in various prints of Andrew Wolever during various time periods of the city's history.

OhmerFam said...

We have a Morgan standpipe in Houma, Louisiana built in 1902