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Getting a facelift: The Anderson Center water tower will undergo repairs

The tower at the Anderson Center will soon be consumed by scaffolding so crews can repair the balcony, which has been damaged by water. Rachel Fergus / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 2
This is a photo of the Anderson Center's water tower shortly after its completion in 1915. The cross-hatching pattern on the balcony, which was removed, will be recreated as part of the 2019 repairs. Photo courtesy of the Anderson Center2 / 2

Scaffolding will soon go up and hard hats go on at the Anderson Center to repair and preserve the historic water tower's balcony.

The center recently received a $107,500 grant from the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Program to repair and prevent future damage on the balcony. According to Stephanie Rogers, the Anderson Center's director, the center received a previous grant to assess the balcony's damage and determine what needed to be done.

The tower and balcony, built in 1915, are structurally sound. The problem is that water is not properly draining from the balcony so it is leaking into the concrete, causing it to spall (splinter) and damage the underside of the balcony. Though the structure appears to be in good condition, water damage is visible to the untrained eye when looking up at the underside of the balcony.

The tower is listed on the National Register of Historic Places so the Anderson Center worked closely with an architectural firm that specializes in historic preservation to and create a repair plan.

Rogers explained, that the tower is "historic in nature so you always want to work with professionals."

The firm created a plan for the repairs: Scaffolding will be built around the tower and will be about 70 feet in height. The balcony's lower wall will then be dismantled and the outer six inches, where it is beginning to deteriorate, will be removed. New rebar will be installed, the outer six inches will be replaced and the underside of the balcony will be restored .

Rogers is excited about one of the finishing touches of the repairs: a cross-hatching pattern along the outer edge of the balcony. This pattern was part of the tower when it was first built. The cross-hatching was removed shortly after it was installed. It was, however, documented in photographs so the Anderson Center can accurately replicate the pattern.

The center will put out a request for proposal this winter and intends to begin work once the weather is warm enough. Rogers expects that the repairs will be completed by the end of 2019, in time for the Anderson Center's 25th birthday in 2020.

Part of this project will be funded by the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Program. The other portion will be covered by the three-year grant from the Area Fund.

"The grant partially realized both the historic nature of this structure, and its importance as a landmark," Rogers said.

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