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Metro Newsroom

Louisville Water Company Receives Kentucky Heritage Council Award for Restoration of Pumping Station

Tuesday May 24, 2011

The Kentucky Heritage Council has awarded Louisville Water Company with its 2011 Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation Preservation Project Award for the company’s work in restoring its original Pumping Station.  The Preservation Project Award recognizes outstanding examples of restoration or rehabilitation of historic buildings, or other types of projects that have had a positive impact on Kentucky’s built environment.  



Louisville Water Company’s original pumping station has stood on the banks of the Ohio River for over 150 years, serving as a visual landmark for the city of Louisville and the water utility that bears its name. 

Louisville Water initiated the restoration project in March, 2010 during the company’s 150th anniversary to bring the historic structure to closely resemble its original appearance in 1860.  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 to resemble a two-story temple with wings on either side.  Much of the exterior elements of the building are original.  The Pumping Station operated almost daily until 1912.

The $2.6 million restoration involved a range of activity including installing a new slate roof, removing layers of exterior paint and then repainting the building white to reflect the Classical Revival Style. Some of the more meticulous work included restoring and cleaning the building’s original elements such as the masonry façade, wood soffits and terra cotta decorations.  There are 480 hand-crafted modillions on the Pumping Station, most made of terra cotta, which were cleaned, repaired and in some cases recast.  The project also included adding a riverside terrace on the north side the building that provides a view of the Ohio River shoreline.

Louisville Water Company Chief Engineer Jim Brammell accepted the preservation award during a ceremony in Frankfort.  “The Pumping Station is a testament to the engineering innovation that helped build our company 150 years ago,” said Brammell.  “The founders created structures that not only provided a critical service but served as a landmark for the city.  We are committed to maintaining the integrity of our historic structures, such as the original Pumping Station.”

The original Pumping Station and the Water Tower are National Historic Landmarks.  Since 2008, Louisville Water has completed restoration work on both of these historic structures. The Water Tower is the oldest structure of its kind in the United States. 

Today, Louisville Water offers guided tours of its original facilities.  The Louisville Visual Art Association occupies the interior of the pumping station. 

HGC Construction, a Cincinnati firm with extensive experience in historic structures, was the prime contractor for the restoration.  K Norman Berry was the architect and Pat D Murphy was the roof architect.