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Iconic Swedish Flag Water Tower Returns To Andersonville Glory

By Linze Rice | August 8, 2017 8:28am | Updated on August 8, 2017 5:06pm
 Andersonville's iconic Swedish flag water tower was re-installed atop the Swedish American Museum Tuesday. 
Andersonville Water Tower
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ANDERSONVILLE — The Swedish flag water tower has returned to the Andersonville skyline, more than three years after it was taken down.

Installation of the famous blue and yellow water atop the Swedish American Museum at 5211 N. Clark St. began early Tuesday.

A crew of onlookers, including a man dressed as a Viking, excitedly watched as the 10-hour process unfolded.

Workers first loaded parts of the tower onto a truck and moved it from the museum's parking lot on Foster Avenue closer to its new home on Clark Street, then sent a cage of contractors and supplies to the museum's roof.

"Ready? Let's rock and roll!" the foreman shouted before the truck began rolling.

Architect Miles Lindblad said once the tower is ready to be hoisted, it will be moved in three parts: a round railing, then the tank, then its crowning roof. 

Around noon, the railing portion was lifted above the heads of spectators on Clark Street to the roof of the museum.

By 1:45 p.m., officials involved in the museum and construction project were lifted to the rooftop as the tower's main tank was readied for lifting, and shortly thereafter the landmark water tower was again perched above Andersonville.

By 4:30 p.m., the final piece, the tower's pointed roof, was laid upon the tank base, finishing the historic installation to the sound of cheers and applause from onlookers.

An Andersonville resident since 1978 and member of the Swedish American Museum since 1980, Lindblad said there was no question he would want to be involved in the project.

"I thought it was very important to put this symbol back on the Swedish museum," he said from Clark Street Tuesday morning. "It was something that needed to be done."

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A man dressed as a Viking came to watch the Swedish flag water tower installation Tuesday. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

Lindblad has been part of the project since the original wooden tower came down. 

Painted in the likeness of the Swedish flag with a blue background and yellow cross, the Andersonville icon came down in 2014 after the water tower was damaged during the brutal winter. 

Before it was taken down, the water tower had been atop the building since it was built in 1927 for the former Lind Hardware Store.

After the initial water tower was taken down, $165,000 was raised for the new one. 

RELATED: Andersonville's Beloved Swedish Flag Water Tower Is Coming Back

Lindblad's team took a year to re-design the new tower, searching for a more "enduring" material that could resist wind and load pressure since the tank would not hold water like its predecessor. 

The solution: fiberglass and steel. 

"We knew it would never be the same, but the goal was to make something as close as possible," he said. 

Once it makes it way to the roof, Lindblad said it's important the tower is positioned in a way that situates it as the "visual identity of Clark Street, up and down."

Karin Moen Abercrombie, executive director of Swedish American Museum, was there early Tuesday watching as the truck was secured onto a big flatbed truck and taken to Clark Street.

Abercrombie said she is "really, really excited" but will remain a bit nervous until the new water tower is installed on the roof. 

People have been working on making this happen since the moment it came down, she said, and she's "so thankful" the community and donors and everyone for the support.

She and Lindblad, along with contractors and volunteers, ducked into the empty tank to sign their names on its interior, as well as the date and "Welcome back to Andersonville" in Swedish on its small interior door.

Longtime Andersonville resident Jan Bollig, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1977, wanted "to be sure" to see the tower being returned to its former glory, she said. Bollig, who has Swedish relatives, said the water tower is a symbol of the neighborhood. 

Her cousins, who live in Sweden, independently heard about the water tower fundraising efforts after it was taken down and donated from thousands of miles away, she said.

Margaret Sullivan, who has lived in Andersonville for 30 years, watched in awe as two giant yellow cranes worked at Clark Street and Foster Avenue Tuesday morning.

She came out specifically to watch the tower's return, she said. 

"It's always been an icon, but when it's going back up now, it really reminds you of the sense of community we have here," she added.

Other people have stopped to take selfies or group photos with friends and pets in front of the iconic water tower while it's at ground level.

Photos by Linze Rice/DNAinfo