Andersonville water tower removed from Swedish American Museum

March 20, 2014 (CHICAGO)

PHOTOS: Andersonville's Swedish flag water tower removed

About 16 hours after the job began, that water tank is now in its new temporary home, the Swedish American Museum parking lot at Foster and Ashland. It'll be here for a while, so engineers can evaluate whether it can be repaired.

On Thursday night, 15 tons of neighborhood pride were plucked from on high and lowered to a wistful community.

"It's been here since we were tiny boys. It's kind of sad to see it go, but hopefully they'll be able to do something positive with it," said Jay Anderson, Andersonville resident.

The water tower tank was built in 1927 and sat atop the Swedish American Museum. The Swedish flag painted on it a decade or so ago, cementing its role as an Andersonville landmark.

"It's really been part of the community, part of the heritage living forward in this now mixed community," said Karin Abercrombie, executive director, Swedish American Museum.

For more than 85 winters the wooden water tank endured, but this season proved too harsh. The water inside froze after a heating element went out, damaging the structure and making it a hazard.

"We could have easily gone up there, started cutting it up, taking it down in pieces. It could have been done hours ago. But the whole idea was let's save it. Let's try to restore it," said Kevin Kazimer, project supervisor.

It's at least the second water tank needing removal from a building in recent weeks. One in River North last month gushed water before it was taken down.

The removal in Andersonville required two massive cranes, and salt and heaters to melt the ice in the tank. About 13 hours into the job, it was finally plucked from the roof.

"It was not windy day, and thankfully we didn't have any lightning," said Kazimer.

After being lowered onto a flat bed with much of the neighborhood looking on, the tank was gingerly driven around the corner, clearing this traffic light by an inch or less.

"It is a sad day that we had to take it down from the roof, but it's very wonderful that it happened without anyone getting hurt," said Abercrombie.

What's next? Well, officials will be evaluating the structure, and if it can be repaired, the plan is to return it to the museum's rooftop as a non-functioning water tank.

Many are hopeful the neighborhood can come together to construct something to take its place.

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