ANDERSONVILLE — A replica of the landmark Andersonville water tower tank will replace the nearly 90-year-old original water tank at the Swedish American Museum, museum officials announced in a press release Saturday.
The iconic blue-and-yellow water tower tank, painted to resemble the Swedish flag, stoop atop the museum’s roof until it severely damaged during last year’s record-breaking winter. It was removed last March in a 13-hour operation.
Officials said the original tank, which has been in the museum’s parking lot at Foster and Ashland since being removed, will soon be broken down and salvaged for commemorative uses.
"It's a landmark. Everyone wants a piece of a landmark," said Karin Moen Abercrombie, executive director of the Swedish American Museum in Andersonville.
Jackie Kostek says the replacement water tower will be water-less:
Last year’s harsh winter caused irreparable damage to the original tank, which was made of wood and iron. The tank’s base cracked under a thick piece of ice, allowing water to leak directly into the museum.
"The Polar Vortex was too much for the water tower tank," said Abercrombie. "It damaged the wood and it wasn't safe and secure anymore."
Although restorative work was completed on the tank just a few years ago, the average life span of water tanks built in the early 1900s is no more than 100 years. Because of this, museum officials are in the process of designing an alternative replica, which will not be a functioning water tower, but will serve as a neighborhood landmark and an ode to the neighborhood’s Swedish roots.
Nevertheless, Anderson residents are still getting used to the vacancy where the water tower used to be.
Christian Jeffery, 40, still can't help but feel something missing when he looks out the window of his apartment.
"I had a bird-eyes view of [the water tank], said Jeffery, a 12 year resident of Andersonville. "I could see it from six different windows of my apartment. It was a visual reference point. When it came down, it took time for me to get used to it not being there. You have a sense of something lost. It was such a landmark that defined the neighborhood."
"I know it's pretty damaged," Jeffery said. "I think having a structural replica is great for the neighborhood, good for the neighborhood character."
Other residents were disappointed in hearing the news that the water tank was irreparable.
Katherine Beasley, 39, an eight-year resident of Andersonville, "it's unfortunate and so sad."
"It's such an iconic part of the neighborhood," she added.
Robb Beasley, 38, was also disappointed but was open to the idea of the replica: "If [the new replica] restores the look of the neighborhood, than that's great."
Reid Johnson, 24, thought it was time for the tank to be removed. "I think it's a good idea,the [original] tower was rickety and dangerous."
The Swedish American Museum is now working to a fundraising goal of $150,000. The museum has already raised more than $70,000 toward that goal, since beginning fundraising last winter. Museum officials say they hope to reach $100,000 in funding for the Water Tower Fund by the end of the year.
"We've received a $15,000 donation from the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce," Abercrombie said. "This donation was generated by funds raised during the midsummer fest in June. Other money generated have been through supporters of the museum and on going events."
Design plans for the replica water tank and a timeline for its creation and installation will be solidified after $100,000 is raised, most likely in 2015, museum officials said.
"We've been overwhelmed by the support from the community [both] emotionally and financially," Abercrombie said. "The community has really come together around this landmark."
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