Evansville site added to historical listings

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Gina Duwe
Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I hope I'm not the only one that doesn't know what a standpipe is. After receiving an informative press release, I now know.

So why should you care? Because the Wisconsin Historical Society has added the standpipe at 288 N. Fourth St., Evansville, to the National Register of Historic Places.

OK, so maybe you still don't care. But how it came to be is kind of interesting, and you can file it in your "useless trivia" folder to impress your friends next time you're on a walk in the area. From the press release:

Evansville's historic standpipe was built in 1901 as part of the city's new water and electrical supply system. Before 1901, homeowners and businesses obtained water from individual wells, and local firefighters were forced to rely on these and on strategically placed cisterns to fight any fires.

Not surprisingly, this system was not up to the task. Finally, after a major fire in 1896 destroyed 13 downtown buildings, the city granted a franchise to three Chicago businessmen to build and run a system that would provide the city with both electricity and a dependable, citywide water supply.

In return, John H. Brown & Associates agreed to drill a deep well, build a pump house for two steam-driven pumps that would bring the water up to the surface and also drive a generator that would provide the city with light, lay some four miles of cast iron pipe to convey the water to city homes and businesses, and erect an 80-foot-tall steel standpipe to provide pressure for the system and act as a reservoir for water storage. Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. fabricated the standpipe in 1900, and it was erected in the last months of 1901.

The register is the official national list of historic properties in America worthy of preservation, and is maintained by the National Park Service in the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Wisconsin Historical Society administers the program within Wisconsin. It includes sites, buildings, structures, objects and districts that are significant in national, state or local history, architecture, archaeology, engineering or culture. The National Register designation provides access to certain benefits, including qualification for grants and for rehabilitation income tax credits, while it does not restrict private property owners in the use of their property.

Last updated: 10:09 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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