Compton Hill Reservoir Park
The Compton Hill Water Tower stands like a shinning beacon. At 180 feet, the water tower dominates South Grand Boulevard and serves as a source of pride and identity for the surrounding neighborhoods.
At night it can be seen from many areas of the city. The Water Tower is clearly the dominate feature of Compton Hill Reservoir Park.
But the park is not named for the Water Tower. Built in 1899, it is a new edition to the park that was built as the home of the city's water reservoir in 1867.
The Water Reservoir
Early settlers preferred river water to wells and in 1829, they contracted with John L. Wilson and Abraham Fox to supply "clarified water" to the city by means of reservoirs and a system of six inch cast iron pipes. Since 1835, when Fox sold his company, St. Louis has owned and operated its own waterworks.
One of the highest locations within the city limits of 1855, this land was chosen as the site of the principal city reservoir in 1867 by James P. Kirkwood, who was then the chief engineer of the Water Department. It comprised about 40 acres and was acquired at a cost of $191,900. Although the reservoir itself occupied only about 18 acres of the block, the remainder was suggested by Kirkwood to be used as a park.
The problem of mud sediment in the storage reservoirs was solved in 1870 when a new waterworks system at Bissell's Point was put into operation. To supply South Saint Louis, water was pumped five miles to the new Compton Hill storage reservoir.
Built 834 feet long, 501 feet wide and 22 feet deep, it cost $290,445 and has a capacity of 60 million gallons. The large reservoir wall was designed by Guy Study. The arrangement of steps and wall fountains is in the manner of those in the gardens of Italian villas. Two bronze tablets on either side of the steps on the west wall give all of the historic information about the reservoir.
During the 1930s, the reservoir was covered with a concrete roof upon which tennis courts were placed in use until World War II. Balustrades and two large fountain basins on either side were added the following year and the massive head by architects Roth and Study was designed in the west retaining wall.
During the next 50 years, the reservoir began to deteriorate. In 1995, city officials faced the difficult decision of demolishing,replacing or restoring the water tower and reservoir. After months of studying and several public hearings, a $19 million renovation began.
The Water Division built two new 14 million gallon precast/prestressed concrete water storage reservoirs, one in the north cell and one in the south cell. The existing roof slab and columns were removed and permanent doors were added. The perimeter wall was replaced with new concrete panels similar in architectural style to the original construction. The chainlink fence and the rails on top of the existing reservoir were removed. Stairs leading from the top of the berm to the top of the reservoir were removed. All lighting was replaced and new plants were installed.
-- Water Tower
-- Water Reservoir
-- Decorative Fountain
-- Comfort Station
The Naked Truth