Wisconsin Historical Society

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Architecture and History Inventory
119 KING ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Waterworks Building
Other Name:The Pump House - Regional Arts Center
Reference Number:16241
Location (Address):119 KING ST
County:La Crosse
City:La Crosse
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1880
Additions: 1978 1895 1884
Survey Date:1996
Historic Use:water utility
Architectural Style:Romanesque Revival
Structural System:
Wall Material:Brick
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Waterworks Building
National Register Listing Date:7/27/1979 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:
Additional Information:A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the State Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation.

A second story and tower was added to the original gable roofed Romanesque styled City Water Works Building in 1895 to create the present two-story, brick hip roofed structure. The round arched windows in the original structure and the round arched entrance as well as the tower added to the structure in 1895 remain to identify the original Romanesque character.

Features include: intersecting hip roofs; round arched windows in original section on lower story on west side of facade. Blind round arch over door in projecting central entrance bay (formerly a taller tower); whitestone belt courses; flat arched windows in remainder of windows.

Enlarged in 1895 according to plans by John Cole, a civil engineer, the Pump House has undergone many alterations over the years including shortening the tower (c) 1940. The site of the first city water works, the Pump House, now used to house the Western Wisconsin Arts Center, is the last of several public structures built in the Romanesque style remaining in the City. The structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

After the public uproar over the demolition of the Federal Building, the city made a token effort at preservation and offered the old second water works pump house as an art center. The Pump House was an important municipal governmental structure. La Crosse had one of the largest municipally owned water utilities in Wisconsin by 1914. The Pump House was designed by H.I. Bliss. It provided water to city residents by pumping it from the Mississippi River. While the building has become the center point of the revitalization of the area, it is most important as a monument to the beginning of the preservation movement in La Crosse.

The City water works were moved to the new plant in Myrick Park in January 1914.

General contractor for 1880 building: Joseph Rawlinson.
Foundation contract: Royal Reynolds.
Architect/engineer: Charles McRitchie (Chicago)

Addition to building to accommodate new machinery in 1895 constructed by F.A. Gross.
Constructed of Dresbach brick.
Bibliographic References:(A) Building Plaque. (B) Dr. L. Crocker, "A Report on Some Historical Structures in the Downtown Area, La Crosse, Wisconsin" 1977. (C) Pratt and Owen, La Crosse Illustrated (La Crosse: Art Publishing Co., Reprint: 1978), p. 56. (D) A.H. Sanford, A History of La Crosse, Wisconsin 1841-1900, (1951), p. 187. (E) LACROSSE TRIBUNE 6/12/1994. A. La Crosse Republican Leader, 9 October 1880, 8 September 1880, 17 September 1880, 21 October 1880, 8 April 1881. B. La Crosse Daily Press, 16 November 1895. C. La Crosse Leader Press, 16 January 1914 D. Crocker, Leslie. La Crosse Buildings through Time. La Crosse: La Crosse Public Library Archives Department, 2015.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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