What is that, I thought. I walked over to this unusual structure and walked all around it trying to identify what it is or was. There were two plaques, both stated that it was on the National Register of Historic Places. But nothing else to identify this mystery tower facing Lafayette Street in Baton Rouge.
A little online research identified this as the Baton Rouge Water Company Standpipe. It was constructed in 1888 after the Common Council of Baton Rouge contracted with E. Smedley and John H. Wood of Dubuque, Iowa to build a water works company. They were also charged to maintain and operate the company. The original standpipe was built on a leased piece of ground adjoining the water works company. It was 100 feet in height and 15 feet in diameter and constructed of riveted wrought iron plates that ranged in thickness from 5/8 of an inch at the bottom of the structure to 1/4 of an inch thick at the top. The foundation is 10 feet deep and there are fabricated triangular brackets at the base. An access ladder climbs up one side. Original capacity was 132,500 gallons although the contract only mandated a standpipe with 100,000 gallon capacity that could furnish 2 million gallons of water in a 24 hour period.
In 1937 plates were added to increase the capacity of the standpipe; this accounts for the present day height of 110 feet. In 1938 a metal umbrella roof replaced the original wooden cover. Originally it held treated water from the Mississippi River and then later water from the wells that would be drilled in 1889 and 1896. This standpipe was the only elevated water source in Baton Rouge until 1938. The standpipe has not been used since 1963. Today a fountain (under renovation or repair, thus the yellow tape) surrounds the structure and there is no sign of the Water Company building.