Roland Water Tower Preservation Campaign
A Roland Park-area icon for generations: RP without the tower is unthinkable.
(Photos: Anne Stuzin.
Click to enlarge.)
Roland Water Tower After Proposed Restoration, with
"Pocket Park" Around Base.
(Source: Greater Roland Park Master Plan.)
Let's make 2013 the year the tower gets saved.
Preservationists have secured a quarter-million-dollar state bond, a matching grant that must be matched dollar for dollar by the community and other fund-raising efforts. The total cost of restoring the tower, developing a historical display room within it, and creating a park around it will be some $1.2 million.
A tower preservation project fact sheet is linked below.
Click icon for fact sheet.
The observation platform before, during and after its October 2012 cleaning.
The tower in the mid-1940s was used as an interchange between Roland Park streetcars and the short-lived "trackless trolleys" from downtown.
Plan of the three-quarter-acre pocket park at the foot of the tower.
Along with the Roland Water Tower, the West Arlington tower, above, is a stately reminder that utilities could once be pleasing as well as utilitarian.
The Roland Water Tower is under threat of demolition by Baltimore City but the neighborhood has stepped up to raise funds to restore the historic tower and create a community park on the .75 acres at the base. The Roland Water Tower — located at 4210 Roland Avenue, at the intersection of the Roland Park, Hoes Heights, Hampden and Rolden communities — is one of only two Beaux Arts water towers remaining in the Maryland. It a historic landmark for the community and, once restored, it will be a wonderful gathering space for locals.
Located in Roland Park's smallest plat, Plat 4, the Roland Water Tower is one of the Roland Park area's most well known historic structures. It is situated on one of Baltimore City's highest points and commands a breathtaking view of the surrounding area. The tower was originally built in 1904-1905 to provide water for the adjacent areas, but fell into disuse when Baltimore City in 1930 moved to using reservoirs exclusively for its water supply. In 1974, the tower was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and, in 2008, the city designated the tower a City Landmark Building. In recent years, however, the tower has deteriorated severely — to such an extent that it was fenced off in July 2009 to prevent passersby getting too close to it, and thus potentially being hit by falling debris.
The tower is one of only two such water towers in Baltimore, the other being the slightly larger West Arlington Water Tower. West Arlington is about two miles northwest of Druid Hill Park, sandwiched between Liberty Road to the south and Reisterstown Road to the north. The West Arlington tower, pictured at left (click thumbnails), is in a similar state of disrepair. For readers interested in seeing it, it is located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Oakford and Granada avenues.
The important take-home is that, once the Roland and West Arlington towers collapse, there will be no Beaux Arts water towers left on Maryland — not a single one. This tower is worth saving.
In summer 2009, a new preservation group was formed with a view to securing the rehabilitation of the Roland tower, the "Friends of the Roland Water Tower" (FRWT). On July 2, 2009, the Roland Park Civic League voted to support the efforts of the FRWT. If you would like to get involved in the preservation effort, please contact the FRWT at e-mail address RolandH2OTower@yahoo.com, or visit the group's Facebook page at http://www.causes.com/rolandh2otower.
Likewise in 2012, the Roland Park Community Foundation adopted the tower and its preservation as part of the foundation's Open Space Campaign. In October 2012, the long-awaited environmental cleanup of the tower began, funded by the community foundation. A local company, Padeens, Inc. cleared out 300 bags of animal, mostly bird, excrement. In addition, the interior was screened and sealed so no more animals can enter.
The Tower Project
About the Tower
Elisabeth Sachs, Allison Barlow,
Matthew Fitzsimmons and Doug Munro
Sep. 7, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2012
The opinions expressed in the above writing and throughout this web page are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or stated policy positions of the Roland Park civic associations.
(Photo: Tinted period photo, unknown photographer.)
FRWT community party at the base of the tower.
Friends of Roland Water Tower: Mission Statement
In consideration of the facts that:
• The 105-year-old Roland Water Tower is a building of historical value;
• The Roland Water Tower is a gateway landmark anchoring the communities of Cross Keys, Evergreen, Hampden, Hoes Heights, Keswick, Medfield, Roland Park, and Wyndhurst;
The Friends of the Roland Water Tower is an organization committed to restoring the Tower to a state of engineering stability and aesthetic beauty, as well as exploring strategies to foster stewardship for the tower and surrounding green space for future generations.
— FRWT, Summer 2009