Sunday, October 26, 2008

Another Visit to The Standpipe

Last April I wrote about the standpipe on Lemon Hill behind the John B. Parsons Home. This structure was the first water tower for the city of Salisbury and held 150,000 gallons of water. It was built by the Grier family after the Jackson lumber Mill fire of 1899 and is made of Swedish Steel.

When I last visited this site the standpipe was partially covered with a heavy growth of ivy. I seem to remember that the John B. Parsons home had some concern about the stability of the structure and there was some dialog with the city about it's condition. I had heard there may have been some movement underway by the fire department to try and restore and preserve this structure as it has a great deal of importance to the history of the SFD and the Grier family which was so influential with the department and the city. Recently I noticed the ivy had been cut away from the standpipe and so I visited once again.

As you can see the ivy has been removed and even the ground around the base appears to have been cleared of the plants root system.

All the way around the base there appears at first glance to be a concrete pad that the pipe sits on. However a little closer look and it seems that the concrete is actually just a dressing to the foundation. In one place it is possible to count at least 3 layers of brickwork beneath the concrete and the 10 buttress style flanges are clearly held in place with some massive nuts and bolts.

To give you some idea of the size of these nuts take note of the black walnuts lying on the ground near the base. These walnuts, in their hulls, are nearly the size of a softball.
Without a great deal more research or digging at the site it is impossible to tell just how deep the anchor and foundation for the pipe goes or what the condition is below ground. However I would guess that the structure is probably very sound as it was the habit in those days to build things a lot sturdier than was actually needed.
Although the pipe appears to be very rusty most of it seems to be little more than surface rust and discoloration. From what can be seen at ground level the structure does appear to be quite sound. No doubt it would be quite a job to clean it up and paint it but I believe it could and should be done. Possibly some sort of historical grant can be obtained to restore and maintain this structure for it's history to the city and the Grier Family. I suppose time will tell what is in store for the standpipe but I truly hope it is not destined for the scrapyard.

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