Perry Avenue Water Tower (Racine, Wisconsin)

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Coordinates: 42°42′49″N 87°50′25″W / 42.71365°N 87.84018°W / 42.71365; -87.84018

Perry Avenue Water Tower
Perry Avenue Water Tower, 2011.JPG
General information
TypeWater tower
Location1506 Perry Avenue
Racine, Wisconsin
Construction started1930
OwnerCity of Racine
Design and construction
DeveloperRacine Water Utility

The Perry Avenue Water Tower, also known as the Perry Avenue Standpipe, is a facility of the Racine Water Utility in Racine, Wisconsin. Officially located at 1506 Perry Avenue, the facility has operated since 1930.

History[edit | edit source]

A standpipe tank with a capacity of 2,750,000 US gallons (10,400,000 L) and a booster pump station were built on Perry Avenue in 1930, then located on the outskirts of town and outside the city limits,[1] and it served as Racine's auxiliary water tower. On August 25, 1933, it was reported that "a dozen or more boys" climbed the tower, but when the sheriff's department responded to the reports, the boys could not be located.[2] The location was surveyed by the Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1935, which described the tank as "not especially prominent" and "a huge silver structure of steel resembling an oil storage tank. It sets on the ground and is about 70 feet in diameter and about 85 feet high. The flat spherical roof has a ball at its apex."[3] Aerial imagery taken in 1955 shows that the facility was then at the southern end of the mostly undeveloped Perry Avenue.[4]

A 125-foot (38 m) water tower was built next to the tank in 1956, with a capacity of 1,500,000 US gallons (5,700,000 L).[5] The tower was replaced in 1982 by a 145-foot (44 m) water tower with a capacity of 2,000,000 US gallons (7,600,000 L), built between Regency Mall and High Ridge Health Care Center.[1][6] On December 17, 1984, the Perry Avenue tower was taken down in one piece by Azarian Wrecking Company, which intended to use it for scrap metal.[7] Around the same time, new booster pumps were added to the Perry Avenue station, and the standpipe tank was cleaned and repainted in the summer of 1985.[8]

In 1977, surplus land north of the site owned by the water utility was sold to the Reilly Joseph Company of Milwaukee, which developed the Washington Court Apartments on the site.[9]

In 1999, the city council granted Cellular One, Inc. permission to place cell phone antennas on top of the standpipe tank.[10] On the morning of September 24, 2006, the standpipe tank was overpressurized and nearly overflowed, causing a water hammer that resulted in eight water main breaks. The employee who was operating the tank at the time had been operating the Coolidge Avenue tank in December 2005 when a similar incident occurred, so he was fired for a second incidence of negligence. His union, AFSCME Local 63, appealed the firing, arguing that the Racine Water Utility had ignored faulty equipment and employee training issues that led to the accident, but an arbitrator found in favor of the utility.[11]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "2011 Annual Report" and "History", Racine Water Utility, cityofracine.org
  2. "Boys Climb Water Tower", Racine Journal Times, August 25, 1933, page two.
  3. "Racine Municipal Tank", The NGS Data Sheet, National Geodetic Survey.
  4. Historic Aerials - Racine, Wisconsin, 1955.
  5. The sources which describe the tower as having a capacity of 150,000 US gallons (570,000 L) appear to be based on a typo. The Summit Avenue Water Tower, apparently identical in design, has a capacity of 1,500,000 US gallons (5,700,000 L), and the 1980 Racine Journal Times article referenced below has the correct figure, specifically mentioning the similarity between the tower and its replacement.
  6. "New tower plans", Racine Journal Times, March 2, 1980, page 2B.
  7. "Old water tower topples into trash", Racine Journal Times, December 18, 1984, front page.
  8. Roberts, Paul. "Working the high iron", Racine Journal Times, July 30, 1985, page 3A.
  9. "Land sale ok'd for elderly's housing", Racine Journal Times, September 21, 1977, page 4A.
  10. Buttweiler, Joe. "BUS to survey riders, prospects", Racine Journal Times, March 3, 1999, page 1C.
  11. [werc.wi.gov/grievance_awards/7216.pdf "In the Matter of the Arbitration of a Dispute Between Racine Waterworks Commission and AFSCME Local 63"], Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, November 14, 2007.