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Clear Water Place (Grand Rapids Water Filtration Plant, City Waterworks)

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Grand Rapids Water Filtration Plant, City Waterworks
1910–1912, George Warren Fuller of Herring and Fuller; 1923–1924, 1935, 1938 additions; 2005–2010 rehabilitation, Tom Nemitz of Cornerstone Architects. 1430 Monroe Ave. NW

In 2005 Ed DeVries Properties began renovating the Grand Rapids Water Filtration Plant for reuse as mixed-use offices and residential apartments and named it Clear Water Place.

The two-story building tells of the city's growth, which created a demand for a clean water supply and symbolized faith in city government, which had recently been embroiled in corruption and mismanagement of public funds. The main towered structure in the complex is flanked by twin brick cylindrical tanks housed in low towers with conical tile-covered roofs. Strict symmetry, expressive of the city's renewed dignity as a result of the passage in 1910 of the bond issue, dominates the facade of the plant. The round-arched central entrance is decorated with a filigree-like metal-faced canopy incorporating the city seal flanked by medallions depicting the maiden Aquarius. The designers were Herring and Fuller, engineers in New York City. Fuller was a pioneer in water purification. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1890 and studied for a year at the University of Berlin in the private office of C. Piefke, engineer of the Berlin Water Works. Fuller established a consulting engineering firm in New York that advised cities and others on major water supply and sewerage improvements.

The modern Grand Rapids filtration plant treated water taken from the Grand River, and water was released into the city pipelines for the first time on December 31, 1912. An addition in 1923–1924 increased the capacity of the plant. In 1935 the tall chemical tower was doubled in size, and in 1938 Works Progress Administration (WPA) funds enabled the city to construct a pipeline to Lake Michigan. Concerned for the health of its citizens, Grand Rapids introduced sodium fluoride into the water supply at this plant in January 1945, becoming the first city in the United States to fluoridate its water. In 1955 the plant was modernized. On November 28, 2007, the Michigan Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers designated the water plant among the top ten civil engineering projects in Michigan in the twentieth century.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Kathryn Bishop Eckert
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Citation

Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Clear Water Place (Grand Rapids Water Filtration Plant, City Waterworks)", [Grand Rapids, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MI-01-KT24.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 254-255.

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