Repairs and Restoration of North Point Water Tower to be Completed in Spring 2017

UPDATE Dec. 2, 2016

The Milwaukee Water Works is reporting that its contractor found cracks in the stone finial during the carving process. A new piece had to be supplied and carved.

As a result, the cold weather now will not allow the work to proceed. Completion of the stone work including finials will proceed in the spring when weather permits, guessing mid-April. The upper portion of the tower is competed. There remains approximately 2 weeks of masonry work on the project. Soon the scaffolding and swing stage will be removed from the tower as that work is complete.



Exterior and interior repairs and restoration on the North Point Water Tower will be completed by Dec. 9, 2016, according to an Oct. 28  letter from Milwaukee Water Works Superintendent Carrie M. Lewis.

In the letter, Lewis says that repairs began May 9 and have included —

  • Interior: Tuck pointing, repairs and cleaning of brick; replacement of original cast iron floor plates with galvanized plates, and
  • Exterior: Masonry work, replacement of damaged brick, painting and sealing of wood windows.

At the end of the project, three new stone finials will be installed.

According to a fascinating Water Works history of the 175-foot water tower — which includes a photo of a cow, yes, a cow, grazing in front of the tower —  it was first put into service in September 1874.

Repairs underway this month (October 2016)

Repairs underway this month (October 2016)

“The decorative stonework of the tower housed a tall standpipe, open at the top, that absorbed pulsations of water from the reciprocating steam-driven engines in the pumping station below,” the history says. “The station and the tower served for 50 years as the sole source of lake water into the distribution system.”

Historic Water Tower Neighborhood greatly appreciates the maintenance and preservation work being done on our namesake and treasured city icon. We wish to thank Mayor Tom Barrett, DPW Commissioner Ghassan Korban, Superintendent Lewis and Ald. Nik Kovac for their support of making this possible.

HWTN Supports Additional Police Officers, Retaining Police Overtime

UPDATE 4:30 p.m. Nov. 7, 2014 :

The Common Council voted today to approve the mayor’s proposal for 12 new police officers in 2015 and to keep overtime at current levels, retaining the full-time equivalent of another 15 officers. Historic Water Tower Neighborhood voted earlier this week in favor of the new officers and maintaining current overtime funding, and against cutting both (see Nov. 6 post below). Here’s the mayor’s statement today after the vote:

Dear Resident:

Today, the Milwaukee Common Council passed the City of Milwaukee’s 2015 budget. I want to thank the Council for including the 12 additional police recruits. This means that in 2015, 85 officers will be ready for deployment. The Council also approved the full overtime amount I had submitted and which was requested by Chief Flynn.

I want to thank all of you who took an interest and the time to weigh-in on the public safety issues. Your voices came through and I really do appreciate how much you all care about our great City and our neighborhoods. Thank you.

As I said yesterday, budgets are about priorities and funding the services we can afford. On the way to striking that balance, there will be disagreements and honest differences of opinion. I believe that the budget that passed today, despite the bumps in the road, strikes the right balance.

I thank Council President Michael Murphy and Alderman Nik Kovac, Chair of the Finance and Personnel Committee, for their leadership, candor and ideas.

I want to acknowledge Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, Alderwoman Milele Coggs, Alderman Terry Witkowski and Alderman Joe Dudzik for their diligence and oversight as the budget was being reviewed and amended at the Finance Committee. It was at the Committee level that Compete Milwaukee, our transitional jobs program, children and family trauma specialists, Community Service Officers and additional nuisance property inspectors were fully vetted. These initiatives, along with our Strong Neighborhoods Program, will help strengthen and maintain our neighborhoods.

I also want to thank all members of the Council who added value to debate and voted in favor of the budget.

Together, we are building a stronger Milwaukee. We have more work to do and I look forward to your continued enthusiasm and collaboration.

Once again, thank you.


Tom Barrett


Posted Thursday Nov. 6, 2014:

The Historic Water Tower Neighborhood Board of Trustees voted Nov. 5 to support Mayor Tom Barrett’s proposal to add 12 police officers in 2015 and retain existing police overtime.

MJS w_bikecop 04 , mjs, news_DeSisti_0673.jpgThe vote followed Common Council committee amendments to delete the 12 new officers from the 2015 budget and reduce police overtime funding for 15 full-time-equivalents of police officers.

The Common Council votes on the amendments on Friday Nov. 7.

To learn more about the various positions, please read the HWTN letter to Ald. Nik Kovac, the mayor’s letter to the public and a news release from several aldermen, as well as a recent Journal Sentinel story.

To tell your elected officials how you feel about this issue, email Ald. Kovac and / or Mayor Barrett.

HWTN joins civic leaders to preserve historic preservation

Milwaukee’s highly successful historic preservation ordinances are now under review by Mayor Tom Barrett and the Common Council following the debate over whether to preserve or demolish historically designated buildings for a proposed Marriott hotel on E. Wisconsin Avenue.

Historic Water Tower Neighborhood recently signed a letter with an impressive list of civic leaders to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett outlining the benefits of maintaining Milwaukee’s current ordinance.

The old Milwaukee Road railroad depot in Downtown, a victim of the wrecking ball in 1965

The old Milwaukee Road railroad depot in Downtown, a victim of the wrecking ball in 1965

Mayor Barrett has initiated a review of the current ordinances. In a newsletter, he posed a series of questions about how the city’s longstanding historic preservation ordinance and processes work. In their letter, the preservationists respond and express concern that any review of the preservation ordinance, like a review of any zoning, should be transparent, thorough and include significant input from the community.

Questions the mayor asked in the newsletter include:

  • “Should the ordinance allow the HPC to consider economic hardship in its decision-making? This is a common provision in many historic preservation ordinances in other cities.”
  • “Do we have enough input from property owners in the historic designation process? Some cities, for example, consider designating a local historic district only if the majority of property owners petition for its creation.”
  • “Should owners of designated properties be able to petition the Common Council for exemption to historic regulations if their projects clearly conflict with the rules?”
  • “Does the Milwaukee ordinance ensure customer-friendly historic preservation processes?”
Another significant historic landmark, the Layton Art Gallery, demolished in 1958

Another significant historic landmark, the Layton Art Gallery, demolished in 1958

Ald. Terry Witkowski is also proposing that the Common Council look at the rules and procedures that the Historic Preservation Commission uses, and he says such a review “could even lead to the abolishment and recreation of the body.”

HWTN strongly supports the current ordinance. Our group helped pass city legislation in the 1970s to pass the current law after a series of historically significant buildings were demolished, as also noted in another of many articles.

The letter to Mayor Barrett notes that preservation provides jobs, encourages heritage tourism, offers business recruitment potential, increases property values and improves the environment. The writers support a review of ordinances with the goal not of making preservation more difficult, but only to “help make historic preservation an even more effective driver of economic development.”

The letter signers include several HWTN members, including James T. Barry III, Kristin Bergstrom, Robert and Barbara Elsner, Sally R. Peltz, Julie Penman, Jim Shields and Charlie Trainer. Other prominent civil leaders who signed include John Gurda, Michael W. Hatch, Tom Kubala, Greg Marcus and Bill Orenstein.

The HWTN neighborhood is home to hundreds of well preserved historic structures — preserved in part because of city ordinances we worked to create. The preservation makes the East Side and other areas true Wisconsin treasures.

Milwaukee's historic preservation ordinance, backed by resident opposition, convinced the owner of this landmark to drop announced demolition plans

Milwaukee's historic preservation ordinance, backed by resident opposition, convinced the owner of this landmark to drop announced demolition plans

What can you do to preserve preservation in Milwaukee? Please send an email today to Mayor Barrett today and ask him to appoint a task force that includes stakeholders to review the ordinance. The more open the process and the more stakeholders involved the better. The goal: To ensure that historic preservation becomes a true engine for positive economic development and protects Milwaukee’s historic gems and unique neighborhoods.