Bangor Water District
History of Thomas Hill Standpipe 

Thomas Hill Standpipe, which holds l,750,000 gallons of water, is a riveted wrought iron tank with a wood frame jacket located on Thomas Hill. The tank is 50 feet high and 75 feet in diameter. Built in l897, it is the District's oldest standpipe and has been in use since its construction. Its purpose is the same today: to help regulate Bangor's water pressure in the downtown area and to provide water storage for emergencies. 

The standpipe is really two structures in one. The standpipe itself consists of steel plates riveted one outside the other. The building which enclosed it is 85 feet in diameter and 110 feet high. The 24 main posts which extend up past the observation deck begin at the base of the structure. Of hard pine, they measure 12x12 inches and are 48 feet long. The entire structure has a stone foundation 9 feet high and 3 1/2 feet thick at the base. The sill atop the foundation is made of bent pine planks and is 14 inches thick. Along the interior wall of the fašade is a winding staircase which leads to the promenade deck encircling the top of the building. The deck is 12 feet wide and 280 feet in circumference. To erect the wooden part of the structure took 42,000 feet of hard pine and 22,000 cedar shingles. When constructed in 1898, the contractor employed 22 men and erected a portable saw mill and blacksmith shop on the site. The entire project took about six months to complete. 

Originally, the exterior was painted dark gray with the pillars and lattice work painted white. During World War II, the standpipe was painted drab olive for camouflage purposes, but was repainted white in 1949. Once open to the public, it was closed in the 1940's following an accident in which an eleven-year-old boy was killed when he fell while climbing on beams under the stairway. A fire detection system and a "dry" sprinkler system which can be filled from an outside hydrant were added several years ago to protect the landmark structure. 

This standpipe is a National Historic Landmark as designated by the Register of Historic Places and the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. It is also designated an American Water Landmark by the American Water Works Association. BWD assumed ownership of the standpipe in 1957 when a quasi-municipal water district (separate from the City of Bangor) was formed.

 

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Last modified: September 30, 2016