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Ambridge Borough Water Softening Plant

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1933–1934; 1952–1954 addition, J. N. Chester Engineers. 1901 Merchant St.

This plant is tucked away on a shelf of land cut off by PA 65 on the west and a large industrial park on the east. Employing horizontal bands of orange bricks and stacked windows, the Ambridge Borough Water Softening Plant is a rare instance of sleek Art Deco design in a community known for the early-nineteenth-century buildings at Old Economy and large industrial sites. Considering its strictly utilitarian function, the detailing of the building is extraordinary. The octagonal lobby is lined with pale green and jewel-toned glazed tiles and showcases an Art Deco chandelier above its central fountain-planter. The original 1933–1934 portion of the plant treated water from deep wells along the Ohio River. By the late 1940s, these wells were contaminated with minerals. The Chester engineering company was again called on to find a source of clean water and to design a system to deliver it for treatment. The company attached a pipeline to the Woodlawn-Ambridge Bridge (BE49) to carry water from the south side of Beaver County six miles away, and designed an addition to the west side of the original plant compatible in every way with the earlier section.

Writing Credits

Lu Donnelly et al.



  • 1933

  • 1952


What's Nearby


Lu Donnelly et al., "Ambridge Borough Water Softening Plant", [Ambridge, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 1

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, Lu Donnelly, H. David Brumble IV, and Franklin Toker. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010, 165-166.

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