Soaring from the ashes

New Huson Water Tower comes home to Yankee Hill


Almost a year and a half after it was destroyed in an arson fire, the landmark Huson Water Tower has been replaced on Collins Street, overlooking the city and downtown Plymouth from historic Yankee Hill. Crews were busy Tuesday unloading the 11,200-pound structure from a flat-bed trailer and then lifting and dropping it into place on the foundation where the original tower, built in the 1870s, stood. That tower, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, burned down to the ground in an early morning arson fire in June 2015. Both of the accused arsonists, Andrew Manderle and Kylie Unterweger, are presently serving sentences for their parts in the fire. The replica tower, following plans and information from the original structure, was built by MZ Construction of Linden at their facility in the southwest part of the state, then hauled to Plymouth Monday. Taking advantage of an unseasonably warm and sunny day Tuesday, the tower was lifted by crane from the trailer it was shipped on and lowered into place on the pre-poured foundation. A cupola and windmill will be added to the tower, along with windows and a door. Workers from MZ hope to complete those tasks yet this month, with only final painting and the installation of stones around the foundation to be done next spring before the project is complete. The city of Plymouth, utilizing insurance proceeds and reserve funds, paid for reconstruction of the tower. The Plymouth Historical Society financed the cupola and windmill. Those parts of the building were removed sometime in the 1930s or 1940s, so that cost was not covered in the insurance settlement following the fire. City officials plan to hold a dedication ceremony for the new tower sometime next year, after the project is completed. Almost a year and a half after it was destroyed in an arson fire, the landmark Huson Water Tower has been replaced on Collins Street, overlooking the city and downtown Plymouth from historic Yankee Hill. Crews were busy Tuesday unloading the 11,200-pound structure from a flat-bed trailer and then lifting and dropping it into place on the foundation where the original tower, built in the 1870s, stood. That tower, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, burned down to the ground in an early morning arson fire in June 2015. Both of the accused arsonists, Andrew Manderle and Kylie Unterweger, are presently serving sentences for their parts in the fire. The replica tower, following plans and information from the original structure, was built by MZ Construction of Linden at their facility in the southwest part of the state, then hauled to Plymouth Monday. Taking advantage of an unseasonably warm and sunny day Tuesday, the tower was lifted by crane from the trailer it was shipped on and lowered into place on the pre-poured foundation. A cupola and windmill will be added to the tower, along with windows and a door. Workers from MZ hope to complete those tasks yet this month, with only final painting and the installation of stones around the foundation to be done next spring before the project is complete. The city of Plymouth, utilizing insurance proceeds and reserve funds, paid for reconstruction of the tower. The Plymouth Historical Society financed the cupola and windmill. Those parts of the building were removed sometime in the 1930s or 1940s, so that cost was not covered in the insurance settlement following the fire. City officials plan to hold a dedication ceremony for the new tower sometime next year, after the project is completed. HUSON WATER TOWER TIMELINE

1870s – Henry Huson, second mayor of Plymouth, builds a windmill and pump on the bluff above the south bank of the Mullet River, across the street from his Collins Street home, to provide water for sheep and horses he grazes on the river bank. 1881 – Huson encloses the windmill with a decorative three-story tower. 1965 – Henry Bush, grandson of Henry Huson, donates the tower and surrounding land to the city for a park. 1974 – Park is named Huson Park and a tower restoration project is launched, with the goal of restoring the tower before the city’s centennial celebration in 1977. 1976 – The tower and park are officially dedicated at a ceremony on June 26. 1980 – The Huson Water Tower is placed on the National Register of Historic Places, making it one of only three national landmark properties in the city, along with 52 Stafford and the Henry Huson House. 2004 – Volunteers from the Plymouth Historical Society replace decaying wood and repaint the tower to its original 1881 color scheme. 2015 – An early-morning fire, suspected to be arson, destroys the tower June 19, leaving only the concrete foundation. 2016 – The city and the Plymouth Historical Society plan to reconstruct the tower, including the restoration on the original windmill on top of the tower.



Review story andphotos byEmmitt B. Feldner Review story andphotos byEmmitt B. Feldner



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