Original Pumping Station and New WaterWorks Museum Opens to the Public

February 28, 2014

The First Interior Renovation in 43 Years Includes Museum That Features Architectural, Engineering and Innovative Water Wonders

Louisville Water Company and local school children put the “wow” in water today as they cut the ribbon on the newly renovated and restored interior of Pumping Station No. 1 located on Zorn Avenue at River Road. Built between 1858 and 1860 as part of the city’s original Water Works, the Original Pumping Station was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1971. The extensive renovation and restoration, that includes the introduction of the new WaterWorks Museum, began in January of 2013 and opens to the public tomorrow, March 1 at 10am.

The Pumping Station restoration, which is the first large-scale interior project since the 1970s, brings the facility back to closely resembling its original pre-Civil War condition. Walls, trim and an early 1900s cast-iron spiral staircase have been restored and help to create a warm and inviting entryway as well as an elegant central gallery that overlooks an outside terrace offering a magnificent view of the Ohio River. New bathrooms and a catering prep kitchen have been incorporated into the space to make it event ready.

The new WaterWorks Museum is located in the west wing of the Original Pumping Station. The museum highlights Louisville Water’s considerable archive of historic photographs, some dating back to 1860, films and memorabilia, and allows visitors to discover the company’s contributions to safe drinking water through its innovations in science and engineering.

Visitors can see original architectural drawings, pieces of original water mains, meters and tools used to keep water flowing over the years. Exhibits also include an original steam mud pump as well as lessons about Louisville Water’s groundbreaking efforts such as riverbank filtration. The museum has already hosted several student field trips utilizing curricula aligned to Kentucky Common Core Standards. Tours focus on the science of clean drinking water as well as the importance of the architecture and engineering innovation involved in supplying consistently safe and healthy water to the community.

Along with the exhibits, the company is displaying a number of videos produced over the years, including a silent move produced in 1938, which shows the steam engines operating and mules cleaning out the reservoir.

Development of the WaterWorks Museum is part of Louisville Water’s extensive education programming which reaches over 50,000 people annually with programming that extends into classrooms throughout the region as well as through tours of Louisville Water facilities by collaborations with schools, community organizations and cultural attractions.

“The Original Pumping Station and the new WaterWorks Museum are highly valuable community assets and we applaud Louisville Water for being such good stewards of one of our longest running success stories,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Louisville Water is a national model and a tremendous example of how a deep appreciation of the past can create exciting innovation that makes the present and the future so much brighter.”

The Original Pumping Station is located on the site that features another of Louisville’s National Historic Landmarks, the iconic Water Tower. The entire site has been branded as “Louisville Water Tower Park” to highlight the over 150-year connection between Louisville Water and the community.

"Today we celebrate 153 years of Louisville Water as a valued partner in this community,” said Louisville Water President and CEO Jim Brammell. “We are excited to share our rich history, which in many ways mirrors the history of Louisville itself. We look forward to hosting our neighbors and visitors to the city to discover how water works.”

The Original Pumping Station and the grounds at Louisville Water Tower Park are also available for both public and private rentals. For more information about availability and rental rates, go to LouisvilleWaterTower.com.

Admission to the WaterWorks Museum ranges from $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for youths. Children under five are free. The museum will offer discounts for families and those with a military and student ID.

The WaterWorks Museum is open to the public Wednesday through Friday from 10am -5pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 3pm.

The museum will host school groups, scouts and other community organizations for tours year-round.

Badgett Construction served as contractor and K. Norman Berry Architects provided design on the $3.4 million project. Solid Light provided exhibit design for the museum.