Restoring historic water towers in north St. Louis

ST. LOUIS – Two water towers in north St. Louis could use some much-needed restoration. One local group is trying to restore history by refurbishing the national landmarks.

The water towers stand in the College Hill neighborhood. The red tower was constructed in 1885; the white tower was built in 1871. Both were decommissioned in 1912 but could use repairs.

“It doesn’t mean they’re not important,” said Andrew Weil, executive director of Landmarks Association of St. Louis. “They have national significance and … significant examples of St. Louis architecture.”

Weil says his group raised $40,000 to complete a detailed engineering needs assessment of the two towers. Once complete, they’ll raise the funds to complete the project on the two towers, which appear on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Unlike typical water towers that store water, these were used as standpipe towers,” Weil said. “They basically functioned as a giant shock absorber for the water system.”

When water was pumped into the city pipes from the Mississippi River, pressure surges would occur; the towers would then become columns of water.

Since their decommissioning, the towers have become city landmarks and staples of the College Hill neighborhood.

“When it becomes a hot neighborhood again with revitalization, these towers are going to be an important part,” Weil said. “And it’s also important to the people who live here.”