Historic water tower saved

Former Winslow farm structure moving to City Hall

A historic water tower that was likely to fall to the wrecking ball found a new home at City Hall.

The City Council unanimously voted to move the 95-year-old structure at the intersection of Wyatt Way and Madison Avenue a block south to City Hall’s east side. The council also approved up to $15,000 to relocate the tower.

“I don’t want to spend money relocating a water tower to some place no one sees it,” Councilman Bob Scales said. “I think it’s a unique (part) of Bainbridge and I like having it in a public area.”

The tower, which held water at one of Winslow’s first homesteads, will soon overlook the park between City Hall and the Playhouse. Stakes and ribbon mark the proposed location now occupied by a patch of grass and landscape shrubs.

“(City Hall) was designed so it should mimic the features of a barn because of our agricultural heritage,” said Councilman Jim Llewellyn. “So City Hall makes perfect sense to me.”

Having the tower near the farmers market, which occupies the park on Saturdays, fits one of many site criteria recommended by the city Historic Preservation Commission.

The two-story, seven-ton tower was built in 1912 on land farmed by island pioneer Riley M. Hoskinson. Water was pumped up into the tower for later use in faucets pressurized by gravity. Hoskinson’s home, built around 1892, was razed two years ago to make way for a new commercial and residential development.

Despite its listing on the island’s historic resource inventory and the developer’s offer to hand it off for free, no one stepped up to move the 1,300 square-foot home. Developer Jon Thompson plans to incorporate a model of the tower into a new building’s design, but says he has no use for the original.

“The Hoskinson...water tower is a symbol of Winslow’s farming origins, as well as a reminder of the continued importance of local farms today,” said historic commission chair Sarah Lee in a letter to the council.

Some on the council expressed reservations about moving the tower to City Hall.

“I feel it would be crowded to have it at the City Hall parcel,” said Councilman Kjell Stoknes, who prefers that the tower move to the city-owned Morales Farm on Lovgreen Road.

Councilman Chris Snow doubted the historical significance of the structure.

“I don’t think it’s unique,” he said. “These water towers are every place. How much of the city budget do we want to devote (to relocating it)?”

But the council unanimously approved the funding and relocation proposal offered by the historic commission.

“This certainly is a historic landmark,” Llewellyn said. “And this is an easy way to take direct action and save something.”

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