Client: City of Louisville
Scope of Services: Condition Assessment; Material Testing; Analysis of Structural Integrity; Restoration of Metal Tower and Masonry Base; Conservation of Zinc Statuary
The Louisville Water Tower is a National Historic Landmark and National Historic Engineering Landmark, one of the oldest ornamental water towers in the world. At one hundred and eighty-six feet tall, it enclosed the standpipe for the city’s pumping station set on the bank of the Ohio River. The station was built in the form of a Greek temple complex. Designed by architect Theodore Scowden and his assistant Charles Hermany and constructed in 1856, it is an outstanding example of the use of classical architectural design vocabulary applied to an industrial facility. The tower was extensively rebuilt after sustaining severe damage from a tornado in 1890.
Set on a raised masonry base with circular colonnade, the tower and the lantern atop are clad with mild steel panels and decorated with thin galvanized ribs and other decorative trim. The tower and lantern suffered extreme corrosion of the metals, prompting an extensive assessment of condition accompanied by structural analysis, the testing of the metals, as well as the coatings of both metal and masonry. The investigations and testing prompted the addition of steel gussets to better secure the tower to its base, and extensive patching of the steel panels and trim. As an initial step in the repair process, the exterior of the tower was shrouded and vacuum hoses and collection containers installed for the removal of lead-based paints from the metal cladding. In a separate mediation process, lead-based paints were stripped from the brick base and the terra cotta capitals. The metal statuary figures that grace the colonnade were removed, conserved off-site and reinstalled.