I often walk around the Crescent Hill Reservoir with my son on nice evenings and am just in love with the gothic architecture of the gatehouse. So, when I found out that on Wednesdays during the summer the gatehouse is open, well, I jumped at the chance to go inside and take a look around.
I am so happy that I stopped.
On Walking Wednesdays, the doors are open on both the front and the back of the gatehouse and it is very bright and breezy when you walk in. There are posters hanging up showing the history of the reservoir, blueprints of the machinery of the reservoir and explanations of how water filtration has changed through the years. Also? There is water on site from the Louisville Water Company (with cups that are bio-degradable!) in case you work up a thirst from walking around the reservoir.
I spoke with Terry Conway, the volunteer that evening, and he really knows his stuff when it comes to the history of the reservoir and gatehouse. A retired Louisville Water Company employee, he pointed out interesting architectural points, such as how some iron partitions that were added in the 1930s are set to be removed this fall because they are no longer needed. He also encouraged me to walk up the stairs to get another perspective on the scope of the gatehouse and even told me about a man who found shelter in the gatehouse during the big tornado of 1974.
One poster that I found very interesting was of a very large public swimming pool. Located across from the actual reservoir, in what is currently one of the treatment basins, there was a pool that was given to the city as a gift from the Louisville Water Company. Built in 1919, it was in operation until 1951 when it was closed for mechanical issues and never re-opened, as additional treatment basins were needed.
I contacted Kelley Dearing Smith with the Louisville Water Company and asked her about the gatehouse and Walking Wednesdays. Kelley had this to say:
"I've always thought that the Crescent Hill Reservoir and Gatehouse really speak to the "community" aspect of Louisville Water more than any of our other historic structures. It's this massive, gothic structure that is important to our operations and it sits right in the middle of a neighborhood. In researching our history, the company leaders, especially Charles Hermany, were meticulous and at a times adamant about building structures that were more than just a utility building, but they were building landmarks, gathering places and community icons."
"The Reservoir and Gatehouse were gathering places as soon as they opened in 1879 and still today. We love opening the gatehouse for people to step inside and have that "wow" moment. We always hear, “I always wondered what was inside?" And 'I had no idea.'"
If you have ever been curious about the gatehouse, I highly suggest you head down to the Crescent Hill Reservoir on Wednesdays this summer.
You will not be disappointed.
Walking Wednesdays will continue through the end of July, with the gatehouse open 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. The gatehouse will close in the event of lightning.
Call 569-3600 if you have a tour group of 10 or more or if you need wheelchair accommodation.
Photos by Cynthia Bard Mayes
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