Florence water tower now ?historic?


The familiar Florence Water Tower, easily visible near the roundabout at U.S. 77 and 50, is now on the state?s historic register.

The Florence water tower was one of 17 nominations approved as a historic place by the Kansas Historical Society at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 24, in Topeka.

Following approval, the Historic Sites Board of Review voted to also forward the nomination to the office of the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places in Washington, D.C., to be evaluated by professional staff.

?If they concur with the board?s findings, the water tower will be included in the National Register,? said Sarah Martin, National Register coordinator with the Kansas Historical Society.

Many different property types are listed on each register, including barns, banks, courthouses, libraries, houses, parks, ranches, battlefields, hospitals, roads, bridges, rail depots and archeological sites.

In most cases, if a property meets the criteria of age, integrity and potential significance, the nomination process takes between eight to 12 months.

?Our office provides direction for the research necessary to complete the nomination, relying heavily on the time and efforts of the nomination sponsor to accomplish that research,? Martin said.

Nomination process

The water tower was selected from information provided by Neva Robinson of the Florence Historical Society, site visits, photographs and old documents.

?It?s a lengthy process when a community wants to know if its building or place is eligible,? Martin said. ?We weed out properties in the early stages, so by the time a location reaches the board, it will most likely be approved.

?Our staff goes through the paperwork for consistency in the editing phase and we constantly work with property owners and others to get good working draft,? she said.

The water tower met all the criteria for its significance to Florence based on information the society reviewed.

?The water tower was built in the late 1880s for fire protection, cleanliness and indoor plumbing,? Martin said. ?Water lines were laid, a pump house was built by the river and in 1887 they had their first water system.?

In a broader pattern, she said, other towns about that time were all competing for residents along the railroad line.

?It was important to have access to water on those railroad lines and that?s how we looked at Florence when determining eligibility,? she said.

It was further nominated for its engineering significance and its association with the growth and development of Florence, she said.


Martin said the benefits of being approved include incentives for fixing up buildings or structures with grants or tax credits.

In addition, the society has a Web site to offer more exposure to communities with buildings and places listed for tourists.

?We also work in tandem with other agencies and have several publications that can also help,? Martin said.

In the next few weeks, the National Historic Register will review the tower and formally place it into the national registry.

Water tower story

Fire destroyed four buildings in downtown Florence in the mid-1880s causing community leaders to consider developing a water works system for better fire protection.

Under the direction of A.F. Horner, the Florence Water Supply Company hired local stonemason C.O. Johnson to build a water tower.

The system originally took water from the Cottonwood River and included a pump house and well adjacent to the river in addition to the water tower across town on the hill.

The pump house and well no longer exist. The tower is a cylindrical structure measuring 110 feet tall and 18 feet wide. Its limestone base is covered with a layer of concrete, and the top half includes a metal storage tank.

In 1920, new water and sewer lines were laid and arrangements made to have water brought into town from a spring north of Florence.

The tower remains an integral part of the town?s water system, which continues to take water from the spring north of town.

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