Louisville Water's Original Pumping Station & Historic Water Tower
Louisville Water’s original Pumping Station and Water Tower have stood on the banks of the Ohio River for 150 years, serving as a visual landmark for the city of Louisville and the water utility that bears its name. 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. The structure includes a slate roof and terra-cotta and cast iron decorative elements.
The Cornish engines operated almost daily in the Pumping Station until 1912. Once retired from service, the station was a garage and warehouse, housed a University of Louisville River Institute and the Louisville Visual Art Association.
In 1971, the U.S. Government designated the Pumping Station and Water Tower National Historic Landmarks. The Secretary of the Interior at the time called the tower “one of the finest examples of industrial architecture in the world.”
Today, the facilities are home to the WaterWorks Museum, an interpretive experience that explores water’s connection to the community and Louisville Water’s innovations in drinking water.
Louisville Water still operates two pumping facilities (the brown buildings in the photograph) at this site. Pumping Stations Nos. 2 and 3 have operated since 1893 and 1919, respectively. Station No. 3 includes a massive Allis Chalmers steam engine.
About Louisville Water
Louisville Water provides an abundant, safe supply of drinking water to over 850,000 people in Louisville Metro and surrounding counties. On average, the company produces 120 million gallons of Louisville pure tap® each day. Louisville Water began as Kentucky’s first public water provider in 1860.