Dedication caps off tower restoration

DOWNTOWN PLYMOUTH IS GETTING a spectacular new look along the north bank of the Mullet River.

And proudly overlooking it all is the stunningly restored historic Huson Water Tower.

The rebuilt landmark was dedicated last month by the Plymouth Historical Society, which worked with the city to replace the original structure tragically destroyed in an arson fire more than two years ago.

It’s not the same as the 19th-century landmark it replaces, but the new tower in some ways is better than what it replaced.

That’s because the new tower is topped off magnificently by a replica of the 19th-century wooden Eclipse windmill that was a feature of the original tower, which was removed sometime in the mid-1900s.

The city provided funds for replacing the tower structure, utilizing the insurance settlement on the destroyed building and augmenting that with city funds to cover the insurance deductible.

The historical society then pledged money and solicited donations to cover the cost of restoring the windmill atop the tower, an effort which succeeded.

While there were no original blueprints for the tower building – constructed in phases in the 1870s and 1880s – there were enough pictures and even measurements recorded when the tower was maintained and repaired about a decade ago that the team led by architect Mark Pfaller could develop a precise plan for duplication.

That enabled the talented workers at MZ Construction of Linden in Iowa County to do a perfect job of replicating the historic structure in their shop, then transport it to Plymouth and put it in place on the original foundation.

After that, windmill restorer Ron Hartmann of Sheboygan painstakingly and beautifully created the replica Eclipse windmill that he and a crew from MZ assembled and placed atop the tower earlier this year.

The result is now on display on Collins Street, soaring above the south bank of the Mullet River.

Historical society and city officials hosted the official dedication, with visitors getting the chance to look inside the tower, view artifacts and displays on its history, and meet windmill restorer Hartmann.

When the tower was first destroyed, Plymouth Historical Society President Dan Buckman wrote that, “The tower has provided mystique and charm. City employees and local residents have carefully tended to the tower, from cutting grass, setting field stones, planting flowers, and even gracing the front door with a Christmas wreath.

“A popular tourist attraction, the tower has been frequented by local and out-of-town visitors who would stop and see this unusual and mysterious little building, if only to read the historical plaque from the street or peek into its windows.”

When plans to rebuild the tower were finalized, Buckman commented, “It will be nice it will be there again.”

So true, thanks to the dedication, caring and hard work of many people who treasured – and will continue to treasure – this little link to our city’s great past.

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