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Metro Newsroom

Restoration of Historic Pumping Station

Thursday July 29, 2010

It has stood on the banks of the Ohio River for 150 years, serving as a visual Restoration of Original Pumping Stationlandmark for the city of Louisville and the water utility that bears its name.  Now, during its 150th anniversary, Louisville Water Company is in the midst of a $2.2 million renovation project that will bring the historic structure to closely resemble its appearance in 1860.

The original Pumping Station and the Water Tower are National Historic Landmarks.  Designed by Theodore Scowden and his assistant Charles Hermany, the Pumping Station housed the Cornish steam engines that were part of the water company’s operations when it began in October, 1860.  Scowden designed the station in Classical Revival style to resemble a two-story temple with wings on either side. The structure includes a slate roof with terra-cotta and cast iron decorative elements.

“The Pumping Station and Water Tower are community icons and a testament to the engineering feat that created our company 150 years ago”, said Greg Heitzman, President and CEO of Louisville Water.  “This is a massive restoration project and one that is necessary to maintain the integrity of this historic structure.”

The work includes repairing and replacing existing mortar around the building, restoring and replacing decorative capitals and modillions and replacing the slate roof.  Crews are also removing layers of paint and then repainting the structure, improving the parking lot and installing additional lights. 

Because of the Pumping Station’s historic status, the project qualified for a tax credit under the Kentucky Heritage Council.  The credit, totaling approximately $180,000, will be used to fund the restoration project.

The project began in April, 2010 and will conclude in the spring of 2011.  Work on the front of the building will be complete by October in time for Louisville Water’s 150th anniversary.  The company began operations on October 16 and on this day the public is invited to an open house at the original facility.

HGC Construction, a Cincinnati firm with extensive experience in historic structures, is the prime contractor.  K. Norman Berry Associates Architects PLLC is the architect and Pat D. Murphy is the roof architect.

The Cornish engines operated almost daily in the Pumping Station until 1912.  Once retired from service, the station was a garage and warehouse and housed a University of Louisville River Institute. The Louisville Visual Art Association has occupied the building since 1977.