It is easily distinguishable in nearly every photo of the Woodfield area and is known locally as one of the most famous landmarks to rise from the fields of Schaumburg. The Woodfield water tower was erected in 1971 just as Woodfield Mall was being constructed and it is no coincidence that the two were built at the same time. To accomodate the development that the mall would generate, it was obvious to the village fathers that a healthy water supply was necessary.
The construction of the village-owned tower began in the first months of 1971. By March, the base of the 750,000-gallon tower was well on its way. [Daily Herald 3/24/1971] In June, the bowl of the tower was in place and the final stages of construction were at hand. [Daily Herald 6/4/1971] By this point the tower had reached its full height of 135 feet. Painting the tower was the last part of the project and this is where part of its distinction came into play. The very 70s colors of alternating yellow and orange wrapped their way around the entire tower. If you have any longevity in the area, this is the incarnation of the tower that most people are familiar with.
These colors remained in place for 24 years until 1995 when the tower was repainted–both inside and out. The paint job, which included the selection of the colors and design, were commissioned by Woodfield Associates for a total price tag of $128,000. Woodfield paid $97,000 for the exterior painting which was the bulk of the job. The village made up the difference by paying for the interior.
The first part of the job was to empty the tower. It was not filled again until the entire job was complete. Having water in the tower contributed to condensation and, given the conditions, could mar the application of the paint. According to Dave Varner who was Utilities Superintendent for the village at the time, the work was done in January “when water demand is lower.” [Chicago Tribune 1/4/1995] Other towers in the village were used to meet that demand.
The painting was done in stages with both the outside and inside being thoroughly cleaned and rust spots being treated. The interior was then repainted, followed by the more meticulous painting of the exterior. In this incarnation, Woodfield chose a base coat of silver with four, continuous, teal “W’s” wrapping around the bowl of the tower. The entire process took about 350 gallons of paint.
This look lasted only 10 years and was again repainted with the current scheme in 2005-06. Once again the bulk of the work was done in the cold months and was a shared cost between the mall and the village. The contractor for the job was Jetco, Ltd. with Tnemec Company, Inc. providing the paint. Jetco, a company that specialized in elevated water tank refinishing, removed several coats of lead-based paint on the exterior. According to Tnemec’s website, the logo design was created by Woodfield Associates and “features the name of the mall sandwiched between a representation of blue sky and the silhouette of a cityscape.” Amazingly enough, the design was actually “laid out by hand without the use of a stencil” and painted onto the tower. Work was completed in time for the village’s 50th anniversary celebration.
Despite the fact that there are more and larger buildings surrounding it, the round tower successfully sets itself apart from all the vertical and horizontal buildings that populate the rest of the area. It’s still easy to spot and, while it’s not someplace to meet like the Marshall Field’s clock, it remains, forty years later, a dominating presence in the Woodfield landscape.
Articles from the Daily Herald, the Chicago Tribune, and the Tnemec Company, Inc. website were used to write this posting. The photo of the tower with its gray and teal motif is also used compliments of the Tnemec Company, Inc.
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library