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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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Old Fresno Water Tower among city's distinguished landmarks

The Old Fresno Water Tower continues to be a significant piece of history in Fresno to this day. Completed in 1894 by Chicago architect George Washington Maher, it stands 109 ft. tall, showing its prominence to the City of Fresno.

The 1890s were experimental times for Maher regarding his style of work. His inspiration for the design of the establishment was based off a Medieval Romanesque tower, until the Prairie style became more prominent for Maher in the late 1890s.

With an American-Romanesque look to the building, it is constructed with red bricks. The sizes of the bricks on the inside are different and placed in such a way as to create a beehive effect.

The water tank, which was imported from Sweden, can hold up to 250,000 gallons of liquid which was distributed to many residences at the time of its creation. The tower stayed in constant use until its pumping machinery ceased to be sufficient in 1963. Also, the need of water became much more expansive then the water tower could provide.

Three floors were meant to be installed under the water tank, but construction only reached completion to the second floor. A library was meant to be put in on the second and third floors, but never reached installment. For a while the first floor was used as a parking meter repair facility.

The second floor was subsequently removed and the interior remodeled for the visitors’ center for the city and County of Fresno in 2001. A separate restroom building was placed outside as part of the remodeling and a landscaped plaza was added to make the area look more inviting.

The City of Fresno maintains a Local Register of Historic Resources including objects, structures, buildings, sites, districts and private residences that have significance in Fresno’s history.

Any items on the list are protected by federal law from destruction. The tower was listed in 1971 as one of the significant buildings along with 27 other public sites of historical significance for Fresno.

Fresno Christian alumna and Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, ’90, holds respect for the historic buildings in the city, one of them being the Old Fresno Water Tower.

“The water tower is one of Fresno?s most distinctive landmarks,” Swearengin said. “It is known around the country and the world. Fresno?s historic buildings add so much to the character of our city, and the water tower clearly is a valued Fresno asset.”

Dan Masterson, a member of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), along with a couple other members of RSVP curated the gallery, that now occupies the building, since the opening, Sept. 1.

“The gallery represents more than 50 local artists,” Masterson said. “All the proceeds from the gallery and gift shop go to HandsOn Central California whose goal is to put people in the center of change.”

Swearengin has nothing but praise for HandsOn Central California and the contributions they make towards the City of Fresno.

“The water tower is currently being operated by a community based organization,” Swearengin said. “HandsOn Central California, inspires, equips, and mobilizes people to take action to serve their communities.?

Although many may pass by this notable building, its considerable significance to Fresno might never cross their mind. This building holds no importance to those who do not know the history. Sophomore Mikayla Messer recalls her drive past this meaningful tower.

“I’ve passed by the water tower before,” Messer said. “I never considered the possibility that it held any importance for Fresno. Now that I’ve been enlightened about some of the details of its past I’m intrigued to learn more.”

The Feather staff is taking their photo in front of the Old Fresno Water Tower. The students wait in anticipation for the photo day to come. Adviser Greg Stobbe chose this location because of its significance.

“I am a big believer that we should try to promote our own city,” Stobbe said. “In promoting our city we develop pride. Too many of the old buildings have been torn down and the few that are still standing provide a back drop not only to our city skyline but also to a glimpse into our past. We hope to take our class picture at the water tower and even if it’s only for our own staff to know what the water tower represented that’s good.”

According to CBS 47, Masterson remains hopeful that the water tower’s involvement in the community will greatly benefit the people in the area. He hopes to have a central location for people to come together.

?We think this could be a hub of activity for revitalizing the downtown area,” Masterson said. “We also want to bring in the arts community because the arts community is vibrant and alive.?

Different pieces of art will be shown after a certain amount of time so there is always something new for the public to view. The gallery will remain a permanent part of the building. For more information, email Masterson.

For more features, read the Dec. 1 article, FC undergoes year of accreditation.

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