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City Waterworks Building

Buildings: Sarasota History

Source: City of Sarasota public records
Credit: Sarasota History Alive
Location: 1015 N. Orange Avenue, Sarasota, FL

Sarasota History - City Waterworks Building photo

The City "Waterworks Building", located at 1015 N. Orange Avenue, is a two-story red brick, Mediterranean Revival style City utility. The building was constructed in 1926 specifically to be utilized as the city waterworks station for the City of Sarasota. On April 23, 1984, the city "Waterworks Building" was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service, Department of Interior, Washington, D.C.

HISTORIC CONTEXT

When the Town of Sarasota was incorporated in 1902 Sarasota did not have an authorized water system. Water supply was provided only by shallow wells or water cisterns.

A successful bond issue providing for the building of a water works and sewage system passed a referendum on April 4, 1909 and subsequently a contract was awarded for the drilling of an artesian well and the laying of both sewage and water mains. The need for an improved water system became acute not only to provide adequate drinking water for the increased population, but also to provide adequate water pressure to fight fires such as the major fire which destroyed many commercial buildings located on lower Main Street, such as the Lord and the Tonnelier Blocks in March of 1915.

By 1924 the City Council discussed a bond election for the purpose of raising money for the enlargements of both the city water and power plants. The original bond issue was to provide for an electric plant at a cost of $125,000 and $90,000 for the water plant. Ordinance #202 presented to the City Council March of 1924 provided for the issuance of bonds for the City of Sarasota "in the amount of $90,000 for the extension of the water system." Fifteen bids were received on the bond issue for the water works improvements.

The Bohmer-Reinhart & Company with their bid of par value of $90,000 and "accrued interest of less than $3,132" was the winning or awarded bid on the 5% water works bond issue. On November 16, 1925 an additional bond issue of $150,000 which called for the improvement and the extension of the water system was approved on 11/9/25--not a single vote was cast in opposition to this bond issue.

On 1/19/25 the City Council called for bids for a new water storage tank. Four companies tendered bids; the lowest bid, that of William Allen, in the amount of $6,706 for the delivery of a square water storage tank, was accepted. As would be expected, the City Waterworks main pumphouse was built of fireproof construction with the exception of exposed steel reinforced beams. Number 1015 N. Orange Avenue is part of a larger City Water Works complex consisting of reservoirs, pump and well-houses. Not only is 1015 N.. Orange significant as an indication or result of the expansion of the City of Sarasota, but it is also architecturally significant in the use of the Mediterranean Revival Style, executed in brick which was commonly used for industrial buildings in the City of Sarasota during the period.

The two-story eastern block of the water works facility is handled in a sophisticated manner with its use of round and elliptically arched openings at the ground floor and continuously silled, metal casement windows located at the upper stories.

The Building is constructed of a high grade materials made with well-fired bricks and two-toned terra-cotta barrelled tiles which cover the kipped roof. The copper vent located at the center of the kipped roof structure is not treated in a utilitarian manner, but rather as a vented polygonal copper-clad cupola. The newest Westinghouse lights were placed at either side of the entranceway to the waterworks house. Ground planting was provided in addition to palm trees which were planted at the periphery of the north and south elevations. The cipher of the Sarasota Water Works, "SWW," is proudly displayed at the balcony levels of the ground floor east or main elevation of the City Water Works building. The structure is remarkably intact, and the city should be commended for retaining this 1920's water works structure.

The City Waterworks Building was locally designated by the City of Sarasota in 2004.

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