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Sunday, 30 January 2011

All the best towns have a museum in their water tower


Western Springs is a suburb of Chicago located in Cook County, Illinois, USA. As of the 2000 census, the village had a total population of 12,493. It is twinned with Rugeley, best known perhaps as the home of Rugeley B Power Station whose cooling towers dominate the Staffordshire landscape.
In November, 2007, BusinessWeek.com listed Western Springs second in a list of the 50 best places to raise children. The rankings were based on five factors, including school test scores, cost of living, recreational and cultural activities, number of schools and risk of crime. 
The Historic Water Tower was constructed in 1892 . On December 12, 1891, the village president at the time, Mr. Wickerson, sought the village's right to place a water tower on land that had been originally known as "Block A". On January 27,1892 Charles and Ruth Collins donated this land, "Block A" to the village of Western Springs.

The design and construction of the Tower was a collaboration between Benzette Williams and Edgar Williams of the firm of Williams and Williams (which later became known as MacRichie and Nichol) and Ethan Philbrick. All three were civil engineers and residents Western Springs. Benezette Williams and Ethan Philbrick eventually served as village presidents. The cost of the Tower combined with the sewer and pumping system as well as the pumping station was $79,119.10. 156 carloads of stone were ordered from the Chicago and Naperville Stone Company. Each stone was cut and shaped by hand on site. The Tower was constructed to be 112.5 feet high at its tallest point and 36.5 feet in diameter. The walls at its base are 6 feet thick and the original water tank held 133,000 gallons of water. The Tower itself served as the village offices, police department, jail and police magistrate court until 1968, when all were moved to a new administration building at 740 Hillgrove.

In 1991 a near disaster occured when the water tower museum was struck by lightning and caught fire.




More information is available from the Western Springs Historical Society website and

2 comments:

Settle-Carlisle pictures said...

Anybody got any advice on lightning vulnerability of water towers? Towers that have a huge metal tank on top and are earthed by huge metal pipes are either very safe or very dangerous. Question is - which is it??

With (un)enlightened (sorry) self interest.

Mark Rand, Settle

Nat Bocking said...

It isn't a good idea to consider internal water pipes a suitable conductor. You need a lightning conductor to run down the OUTSIDE of the building so that there aren't discharges of electricity inside. My house was hit by lightning in 1960's, and it made a hole through the roof and two floors!