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Compton Hill Water Tower

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1898, Harvey Ellis for George Mann. 1900 block S. Grand Blvd.
  • (Photograph by Bill Hart)
  • (Photograph by Bill Hart)
  • (HABS)
  • Naked Trust (Photograph by Bill Hart)

Land for a reservoir to supply water to fledgling Tower Grove Park was purchased in the 1860s, but the reservoir could not support the vast residential developments of the 1890s without a standpipe to control surges or lack of water pressure. The last of the three monumental St. Louis water towers built, this brick and stone structure, which rises almost 180 feet, is also the most romantic. Ellis's inspiration was French Romanesque architecture of southwest France, as seen in the slender circular conical-roofed tower attached to and soaring above the structure's square body with its elongated dome, and the miniature towers rising from the rusticated base, which each have their own domes. Adjacent to the water tower is a once-controversial sculpture, Naked Trust (1913, Wilhelm Wandschneider), designed to honor three German-born St. Louis journalists. Although Wandschneider refused to add drapery to the sculpture's female figure, he eventually agreed to deemphasize its nudity (in keeping with public perception at that time) by changing the material from white marble to bronze.

Writing Credits

Carolyn Toft
Osmund Overby, Carol Grove, and Cole Woodcox



  • 1893


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Carolyn Toft, "Compton Hill Water Tower", [St. Louis, Missouri], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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