Witch's Hat Water Tower
Note: 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Witch's Hat Water Tower to supply water to southeast Minneapolis. To mark this special occasion, the Tower will be open both Saturday, July 12 (10 - 5) and Sunday, July 13 (11 - 5) along with a walking tour of historic homes of Prospect built by 1914.
The "Witch's Hat" water tower is in Prospect Park, (known as Tower Hill park), the highest natural land area in the city of Minneapolis. Along with the Kenwood and Washburn water towers in Minneapolis, the Prospect Park water tower is one of the few original water towers standing today in the Twin Cities area.
Regularly we receive requests for information concerning reserving the park for a special event, such as a wedding. Because all parks in Minneapolis are managed by the Minneapolis Park Board, please visit their website www.minneapolisparks.org to reserve a park for a special occasion. No one in the Prospect Park neighborhood manages the tower or the park.
The tower observation deck is open one time per year onlyduring the annual Pratt Ice Cream Social (which occurs on the Friday evening after Memorial Day Weekendeither as the last Friday in May or first Friday in June), 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Great ViewBring Your Camera!
The ice-cream social neighborhood event is held on the Pratt school grounds, Malcolm Avenue and Tower Hill; for further information, call: 612-668-1122.
Historical Notes (see also historical sidebar at left)
The 110-foot Prospect Park Water Tower was built in 1913 with a holding capacity of 150,000 gallons.
What was its second purpose? Prospect Park Water Tower was also built to be a bandstand; however, there was only one concert in the band shell because the musicians experienced difficulty in carrying their instruments up the inside spiral staircase. [Source of this information is the City's website celebrating 150 years of history. Also a catalog of Minneapolis Trivia for National Night out lists the tower as first entry.]
In 1955 the tower was hit by lightning and sustained substantial roof damage. The city subsequently scheduled it for demolition, but our neighborhood successfully appealed to the city's Department of Public Works to preserve it. Damaged roof tiles were replaced with copper ones that had acid etchings to match the existing tiles.
In 1986 the tower underwent major renovation for its preservation. An article in Southeast Newspaper, November, 1986, Volume 12, Number 8 by Bob Dull, described the project slated for completion in December. Much of the wooden roof underneath the tiles had rotted. The deteriorating roof would be repaired, and 10% of the roof tiles would be replaced; new ceramic green tiles would be manufactured in the original patterns. At the time, each new tile cost $13.85. The result was an estimated new life of another 100 years.
As part of the NRP process begun in 1994, a systematic effort on a weekly basis was made by neighborhood volunteers, particularly Joe Ring, to obliterate graffiti on the tower's base. Further restoration of the base was performed as part of the process to list the Tower on the National Register of Historic places in 1997-99.
Plaque placed after Tower rehabilitation done by NRP program, 1997.
The Tower is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
The inscription on the plaque reads:
"PROSPECT PARK WATER TOWER
THE WITCH’S HAT WATER TOWER WAS DESIGNED
BY NORWEGIAN ARCHITECT FREDERICK WILLIAM
CAPPELEN AND CONSTRUCTED BY THE CITY OF
MINNEAPOLIS IN 1913. OCCUPYING THE HIGHEST
NATURAL LAND AREA IN MINNEAPOLIS, THE WATER
TOWER WAS BUILT TO IMPROVE WATER PRESSURE IN
THE HOMES OF PROSPECT PARK RESIDENTS. THE
TOWER WAS DECOMMISSIONED IN 1952, BUT HAS BEEN
PRESERVED AS A SIGNIFICANT PART OF THIS CITY’S
HISTORY. THE WITCH’S HAT WATER TOWER AND TOWER
HILL PARK ARE LISTED IN THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF