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Paxton Water Tower Preservation Campaign


This pump house, completed in 1887 and located in east central Illinois, has been rescued by local preservationists and adapted for a new use. Built in response to a devastating fire, this gable-roofed masonry engine room with its octagonal tower supported a 60,000-gallon water tank for fire protection. When a larger, metal water tank was built in the 1950s, the historic pump house was decommissioned and the wooden tank was removed. .The building fell into serious disrepair and, following 30 years of exposure to the elements, was slated for demolition in 1984 until a local group halted the process to investigate reuse options.



By year’s end, the building was listed on the National Register and stabilization efforts were completed in 1987. Countless fundraising events, including an “adopt-a-brick” program, sponsorship dinners, paid house tours and donated man-hours, went into the gradual rehabilitation of the structure for a proposed museum. With a reuse plan in place, and the exterior work completed, the city sold the property to the Paxton Foundation for one dollar in 2004. In the last three years, the foundation has collaborated with the county historical society and a local design firm to translate the area’s rich history into a series of engaging multimedia exhibits. After twenty-three years of dedicated hard work, the former pump house was rededicated this July as the Ford County Museum.








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tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1971 and is the state's leading voice for historic preservation.