Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the August 2010 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

Whenever our family would return from a visit to the city, the kids would always look for the red light flashing on the top of the water tower and say, “we’re almost home”.  We’d be heading west on Golf Rd. and it was the landmark that told you you were in Hoffman Estates.  There wasn’t much around it, not like today.  The carwash was always there and I remember the Robert Hall Clothing store on the southeast corner of Golf and Roselle.

The water tower is one of the oldest landmarks in the village.  It was built in 1955 by the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company of Chicago and owned by Citizen’s Utility.   It holds 100,000 gallons of water and was vital to the growing community of Hoffman Estates as the first homes in parcel A & B were being constructed.  It stands 180 feet high and has a diameter of 32 feet.  It’s officially called an ellipse water tower.  Haileng Xiao, superintendent of water & sewers, who was a great help in supplying these details, referred to it as the water tower with “4 feet”.  I realized that all the others look like golf balls on a tee.  There aren’t many on “4 feet” anymore.  It’s quite small, as water towers go.  You see them in many small towns but today’s modern water towers are huge by comparison. 

With the rapid growth of the village came the need for more water pressure and storage.  Parcel C was being built with plans for additional growth to the west.   In May of 1958, Citizen’s Utility planned to build the reservoir tank and pumps at the foot of the water tower on the north end of the Hoffman Plaza Shopping Center but many of the homeowners didn’t want it in their back yards.  F & S Construction suggested the corner of Evanston and Flagstaff with the promise to screen the area and do landscaping.  Homeowners didn’t want it there either. There was a lot of discussion on “where not to put the tank”.  It wasn’t until 1962 that the 920,000 gallon water tank was finally built near the base of the 180 foot water tower as originally planned. In the mid 1960’s Citizen’s Utility was sold and water and sewerage became a municipal responsibility much to the delight of the local residents.  Our newly incorporated village had fought Citizen’s Utility for several years over inflated water rates and had petitioned the Illinois Commerce Commission for the authority to condemn Citizen’s Utility of Illinois’s property. With municipal responsibility came well planned water and sewer services for Hoffman Estates.

T-1, as the old water tower at Roselle & Golf is called today, was the first of many water towers throughout the village.  There are 6 additional water towns that maintain water pressure for our community; T-2 at 2550 Stonington, T-3 at 1355 Westbury, T-4 at 3990 Huntington, T-5 at 4690 Olmstead, T-6 at 2550 Beverly and T-7 at 5795 Beacon Point.  By comparison, the old 4 footed water tower holds 100,000 gallons but the Beverly water tower will hold 1 ½ million gallons when full. The old 4 footed water tower (T-1) does have its companion reservoir sitting at its base that provides an additional 920,000 gallons of water. The others have varying capacities.

Additional assets of the water towers are the communication antennas affixed to each of them.  The old T-1 has 42 antenna and 2 dishes on it.  The T-5 has 35.  A total of 167 antennas are on our water towers and they provide a good source of revenue for the village as well as giving you a great signal on your cell phone.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estate Village Historian

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