Pearl District residents fight to save historic water towers

People in the Pearl District are fighting to save two neighborhood icons, raising money to restore a pair of structures considered by those living nearby to be pieces of history. (KPTV)

If there is a symbol of Portland’s Pearl District, it may be the historic wooden water towers.

They are depicted on the neighborhood street signs, featured in the logos for the Pearl District Neighborhood Association and the Pearl District Business Association and depicted in many sketchings and paintings by local artists.

There are only three left in the Pearl District, including the two sitting on top of the Chown Pella Lofts, a converted warehouse on Northwest 13th Avenue.

The two towers, built back in 1910, are in danger of collapsing.

The Chown Pella board, the homeowners association for the building, believes the towers need structural reinforcement and other repairs. They also want to preserve the original exterior.

All that work is estimated to cost $35,000, half of which is being covered by the homeowners association.

They have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the rest, hoping the community wants to save the towers as much as they do.

“Of course they’ve long since been decommissioned, but it’s become sort of an icon of the pearl district,” homeowner Gary Peterson said. “We thought it was a statement of the Pearl District and not incidentally, it would cost, oh 50 or 60 percent as much to take them down as it is to repair them.”

The board has applied for permits and they hope restoration will start this summer.


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