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Eastern Michigan University
Ypsilanti, MI, USA 48197
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Virtual Tour
Historic Tour > Virtual Tour > Water Tower

Water Tower

Water Tower

Water Tower
Door & Stonework detail

Door & Stonework detail
Bust of Demetrius Ypsilanti

Bust of Demetrius Ypsilanti
Historical Name(s): The Water Tower

Date constructed: 1889

Architect: William R. Coats

Style of Architecture: Queen Anne

Original Use: Combination water supply and electricity generator for the City of Ypsilanti.

Dates of renovation: Unknown

Current Use: Water tower for the City of Ypsilanti

History: The Water Tower was built in 1889 on the highest point of land in the city of Ypsiilanti. The city had decided to install a civic water system and the water tower was its centerpiece. The new Water Tower was 147 feet tall and could hold 250,000 gallons of water. When it was constructed it had a duel purpose. Not only did it store water but the falling water also generated electricity for the city street lamps at night.

The exterior was designed in the popular Queen Anne style of the period. Queen Anne design was less formal than other popular styles at the time. Instead it experimented with different shapes particularly towers. Queen Anne buildings also often had more decoration than this structure. Originally, William Coats, the architect, intended the water tower to have cornice but workmen, without Coats’ approval, exchanged it for a walkway with round windows. Coats felt that it marred the beauty of the building. The workmen evidently had their own opinions about the design of the building because one of them added a cross in the masonry above the door as he laid the stone.

The marble bust in front of the water tower is of Demetrius Ypsilanti, for whom the city is named. When Ypsilanti was founded in the early 1820s, the Classical Revival was in full swing. Americans looked back to the great democracies of Greece and Rome for inspiration not only in art and architecture, but also in naming traditions. Demetrius Ypsilanti is a hero of the Greek war of independence, not during the classical era, but in the early 19th century. He was born in 1793 and died in 1832, at age 39. The city fathers who named the town saw him as an icon of the successful struggle for democracy. The statue, presented to the city, on August 29, 1928, was chiseled by Christopher Natsio and cost $30,000.

Location - Water Tower


Location of Water Tower (Click on the image for a bigger view)