People stop their cars and take photos. Runners push themselves up the hill. High school kids go up there to smoke dope. Airline pilots look down and know they’re lined up with runway 12-Right at MSP. Octagenarians Sam and Virginia Sarat, who live across the street, walk past as they do nearly every day. The Washburn Water Tower in south Minneapolis is a landmark, yes. But it’s actually more like an old friend to those of us who live near it. It’s hard to imagine what the top of our little hill would look like without it.
This tower is actually the second one built on the site. The original was built in 1893 and demolished in 1930 to make way for the current one.
The tower was designed by three prominent men of the era. Harry Wild Jones, the architect, designed many other well-know buildings in the area, including the Lakewood Cemetery Chapel. The sculptures are by John K. Daniels, who did similar work for other buildings, including figures on the Washburn Flour Mills Utility Building in Minneapolis. The engineer was William S. Hewitt, who also invented a reinforced concrete construction method.
The tower is a cool thing to have in the neighborhood and makes a nice little park with good views.