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.

Repairs Begin on Historic North Point Water Tower, To Continue Through Summer or Fall

Repairs on the historic North Point Water Tower, an important city and neighborhood landmark, have just begun and will continue through summer or fall.

In a letter to Ald. Nik Kovac detailing the work to be done, Milwaukee Water Works Superintendent Carrie M. Lewis said the $245,760 project included removal and replacement of three stone finials, stone facade repairs, wood window restoration and replacement of existing floor plates.


Repair work starting in May 2016 on the North Point Water Tower


Lewis wrote the tower would not be covered in scaffolding, but that “work may require a traffic lane for equipment and supplies.”

Lewis also noted that the Water Works appreciated “the historic significance of this structure and received a Certificate of Appropriateness from the City of Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission for the work. All required repairs will match the existing material and architecture of the building.”

A city inspection of the water tower in October 2013 revealed three of its four finials had structural issues that could present a hazard below, and they were temporarily removed.

The repair plans can be viewed here.

According to city historic designation study, the 175-foot tower, which was completed in 1874 and has since been an important Milwaukee and neighborhood landmark, “is significant for its role in early community efforts to improve public sanitation, as an example of nineteenth century technology and as a purely functional device of above average architectural quality. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, recorded for the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1969, named a Milwaukee landmark in 1968, and selected as a national landmark of the American Water Works Association in 1969.”

Historical newspaper articles from 1895 through 1973 about the tower can be viewed on HWTN’s website.

HWTN would like to thank the City of Milwaukee for taking care of this important historic building by funding its needed repairs and following the preservation ordinance to make sure the work is done correctly. Thanks to Mayor Tom Barrett; Ald. Nik Kovac; the Department of Public Works and Commissioner Ghassan Korban; the Milwaukee Water Works and Superintendent Carrie M. Lewis; and the Historic Preservation Commission and Carlen Hatala.