Tour > Virtual Tour > Water Tower
Name(s): The Water Tower
Door & Stonework detail
Bust of Demetrius
William R. Coats
of Architecture: Queen Anne
Use: Combination water supply and
electricity generator for the City of Ypsilanti.
of renovation: Unknown
Use: Water tower for the City of
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.
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.
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.
of Water Tower (Click on the image for
a bigger view)