Saint Louis, MO

The amazing historic and saved Bissell Street Water Tower in St. Louis

CJ Coombs
The Bissell Street Water Tower at Bissell and Blair in the College Hill neighborhood of north St. Louis, Missouri.Photo byOnegentlemanofverona, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Completed in 1886 at Bissell Street and Blair avenue in St. Louis, Missouri is the very tall and unique Bissell Street Water Tower. It's also referred to as the New Red Tower. The historic name for this tower is Water Division Standpipe No. 2.

This historic standpipe water tower was in service until 1912. Interestingly, it's one of three remaining historic standpipes in the city, and one of seven in the country. The other two are the Grand Avenue Water Tower and the Compton Hill Water Tower.

On June 5, 1970, this standpipe was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At the time it was nominated for the National Register, the owner was the Water Division of St. Louis, Missouri. The tower is brick, stone, and terra cotta. It stands 194 feet tall.

The Bissell Street Water Tower was designed by William S. Eames who was the Deputy Commissioner of Public Buildings in from 1883 to 1886 in the city. Eames was also one of the founders and first president of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. He was also the national president of the A.I.A. in 1904-1905.
The bottom of the Bissell Street Water Tower (cropped from original image).Photo byOnegentlemanofverona, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

When it was built, it was intended to supplement the Grand Avenue Water Tower. It was built to house a standpipe and to maintain constant water pressure in water mains of the city from the pumping station located on the Mississippi River.

As kids, some St. Louisans played at the base of the tower and called it a castle or cathedral. (Source.)

There used to be a spiral staircase inside that reached the top of the tower to a balcony on the outside. Because of the neglect and lack of use of the tower, at one time, residents were concerned it was going to be demolished. In the 1970s, with a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior which was also matched by the City of St. Louis provided a way for it to be allowed it to be fully renovated.

This water tower is significant because it's rare and it has stood the test of time. It also serves as a focal point. It's an architectural landmark in the surrounding College Hill neighborhood.

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Multi-genre writer and author/publisher with a BA in Eng Journalism/Creative Writing. I worked in law firms for 30+ years and retired early to pursue writing. I was born into the Air Force, so you could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, research, history, true crime, reading, art, and travel.

Kansas City, MO

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