Junction Street Pump House

Junction Street Pump House
Exterior Description:

This 1905 pump house is an unusual round structure building comprised of “Waupaca Brick” with a conical peaked metal roof and is approximately one story high. The brick was painted white at one time. This building appears as a short barn silo, with its girth approximately the same as a standard silo. On the east side of the round silo portion is a square section that stands the same approximate size and height as the silo portion. This portion of the building appears to be original. On the north end of the original square section there is a small addition which is comprised of cinder block. This addition was added much later than the original construction, although the exact date is unknown. Conrad Gmeiner, the builder, was known in the area for his structures usually being constructed of brick. He built many brick silos for the area farmers as well. This building is in a fair, but deteriorating condition. Some tuck pointing, and possibly a recoat of paint for the metal roof and maybe the brick is recommended. The brick could also be sandblasted, for a natural finish.

Interior Description:

The pump mechanism is no longer existent, for the pump and well are no longer used, but the building is used by the Parks’ and Recreation Dept. for storage.

Statement of Significance:

The Public Works Pump House on Junction Street at Mirror Lake was built by Conrad Gmeiner in 1905. Mr. Gmeiner, born in 1865, came to Waupaca in 1893. He was a mason and building contractor until 1904. He then continued his building career as operator of the Waupaca Brick Yard. During the early twentieth century, Gmeiner promoted the use of bricks for silos, which the junction St. Pump house resembles. Gmeiner also manufactured concrete blocks and promoted their use in buildings. He was a prolific builder during Waupaca early twentieth century. Mr. Gmeiner died in 1943. The city water works established in 1897 consisted of 70 hydrants and water mains that services the City, with a power plant just north of downtown on the Waupaca River and a stand pipe on Mount Tom for water pressure. However, between 1897 and 1904, during the winter, many of the water mains broke, resulting in costly repairs. These ruptures were caused by icy water being pumped into the system from the river and also the fact that they were laid only four feet into the ground, well above the frost line. Water quality was also a problem because the Waupaca river itself was polluted and full of sediment and the pump house has no filtering or disinfecting equipment. An engineer was called in to assess the water works situation. His costly solution proposed of reinstalling all water mains, changing the water supply from the Waupaca River to Mirror lake and pumping/filtering the water through sand into artificial ground water wells, and then pumping into the City’s mains. After a year of deliberating the costly proposal, City officials decided to implement portions of the engineer’s solution. Defective mains were replaced and the shallows piping was relocated below the frost line. The second phase of the project entailed building a new pump house at Mirror Lake to pump its warmer spring fed water. Conrad Gmeiner was given contract. These improvements gave the City only a brief reprieve from its water problems, for water quality persisted to be an issue. In 1922, the City dug a shallow well at Mirror Lake which was first recommended in 1904. This solution helped but, in 1949, the City determined that only wells could solve the water problem and in 1950 a city well and pump house were constructed. Two new wells were constructed in the 1960’s with two more in the 1970’s.

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