Tower Road’s Original Tower

Gazette Article by: Nan Greenough
Appeared in the Gazette: Fall 1995

High on the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan at the east end of Tower Road, a handsome 119-foot brick, octagonal tower, visible from many miles away, once identified Winnetka.

Visitors to the tower cared little about the 46,000 gallon interior steel tank that provided water pressure for the Village-owned water works. They only climbed the spiral staircase inside the tower to reach the viewer’s platform, just under the low-pitched tile roof.

From there they had a beautiful view up and down the lake shore; some claimed that on clear days they could see across to Michigan. They saw Henry Demarest Lloyd’s nearby house, barn and pond and could gaze down North Avenue, later renamed Tower Road for the Water Tower and the Techny Towers to the west.

Built in 1893, the Water Tower was part of one of the first village-owned and operated utilities in the country, a concept that later became known as the “Winnetka idea.”  This was a highly controversial topic, pitting citizens who supported improvements paid for by taxpayers against those who saw no need for such amenities.

1989.18 Winnetka Water Tower

As time passed, high pressure pumps eliminated the need for the Water Tower. Loose bricks fell off, and the tower needed tuckpointing.  Eventually the Village Council decided the cost of restoring the tower simply as a landmark was too high.

So in 1972, to the regret of many villagers, the tower was torn down.  This left the previously hidden electrical plant’s smokestack on plain view.  Today it is mistakenly referred to as the tower of Tower Road.

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