Neilsville Standpipe

325 East 4th Street, Neillsville, Wisconsin

Poured concrete standpipe protecting a steel elevated water tank

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South Face

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in July 2015

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Description 

The Neillsville Standpipe, constructed in 1926, is located within the corporate limits of Neillsville in Clark County, Wisconsin. The standpipe is situated on the highest point in Neillsville and is visible for several miles. The area on which the standpipe rests is flat, but the terrain of the remaining parcel drops sharply north of the tower. The entire lot is surrounded with chain-link fence (not included in the count). A small paved driveway enters the compound at the southeast corner through a locked gate.

A Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Company's cylindrical, riveted-steel 260,000 gallon suspended hemispherical bottomed water tank with domed roof rests on short steel supporting legs. The short steel legs of the tank are bolted to 48' tall concrete piers which are part of the interior walls of the encasing concrete tower. The entire tank and supporting structure is encased in a decorative concrete tower.

The slipform concrete encasing tower which is 95' tall and 36'in diameter was built by Tierweiller Brothers Concrete Company of Marshfield, Wisconsin. This type of concrete construction continued to be used primarily for the construction of silos during the first half of the twentieth century.

Slipform construction is a method of continuously pouring concrete into a form or mold that moves up vertically with the assistance of hydraulic or screw jacks. As the structure rises, the section of previously poured concrete hardens and forms a support wall that is strong enough to withstand the concrete poured over the top of it. Pouring continues until the desired height of the structure is reached. This method allows for a type of monolithic poured concrete structure which is completely hollow inside and smooth on the outside. The Tierweiller Brothers wrote pouring notations on the inside wall of the tank. The custom shaping exhibited in the Neillsville Standpipe including exterior pilasters, interior piers, exterior battement cresting, narrow windows and quartermoon designs can easily be formed using the slipform method.

The concrete cylindrical shape protects the interior tank from extreme winds. The tower also offers some insulation to the water tank in the winter. However, in extreme temperatures an ice dome still forms within the tank but does not adhere to the sides of the tank.

Six 36" wide and 7" deep pilasters rise from the top of the concrete strengthening ring culminating in a battlement ring of merlons and crenels which circles the top of the tower. These pilasters extend through the concrete wall of the tank becoming pier supports for the short legs of the water tank. The piers are 36" wide and 11 "deep and extend six feet into the ground base acting as footings.

Originally, the roof of the tower was flat. A low pitched steel dome has been placed on top of the concrete roof. This helps to keep water from ponding on the roof and promotes the rain and snow to shed over the sides ofthe tower.

Six smooth recessed panels appear between the six pilasters. Each panel has three narrow windows, located at various heights. The window which is closest to the top of the tank has a decorative quarter moon shape cast into the concrete which appears on each side of the window.

INTEGRITY

The Neillsville Standpipe retains a high level of historic integrity. With the exception of the addition of the low pitched steel dome, no significant alterations have been made to the standpipe. Both the exterior concrete encasing tower and the interior Pittsburgh-Des Moines water tank remain in remarkable original condition. The interior water tank was recently repainted and was noted to be in excellent condition. The larger entrance to the standpipe has been made smaller. It is thought that this was done immediately after the water tank was taken through the larger opening for installation. The style of the current door with strap hinges and lift handle would be correct to the period of time of erection.

The windows are visible to the viewer but have been blocked in to insulate the tank. For some time the top of the tower was used for communications. Currently, only a Christmas Star remains at the top of the tank. An iron railing, not original to the tank, surrounds the star. The standpipe has been painted with silver aluminum paint for many years.

SIGNIFICANCE

The 1926 Neillsville Standpipe [was] nominated to the National Register of Historic Places for local significance under two criteria. It is significant under criterion C as a good example of the type of construction used in an early 20th century small town standpipe. As many Wisconsin cities grew in size they had to address the growing need for reliable water service. That need included adequate water storage and water pressure for fighting fires. Elevated water storage applies the scientific principles of gravity to serve the human need. The design of the standpipe is distinctive in that most people do not realize that what they see on the outside is the housing and structural support for an inner steel water tank. The Neillsville Standpipe's prominent location, adjacent to the entrance to the Neillsville schools, makes it a visible symbol of Neillsville's water distribution system.

~Condensed from the NPS Nomination Form, Submitted July, 2012

Update Log 

  • July 21, 2015: Added by J.R. Manning

Sources