Lewis Reed Photos: Rockville’s First Water Tower
This 1906 photograph taken by Lewis Reed depicts Rockville Maryland’s very first water tower. I wanted to share this photograph, because it offers a visual history for its role in the development of public utilities in the City of Rockville. My grandfather picked up the hobby of photography even before automobiles were around. He was a well-known photographer in the county and many of his early photographs are now part of the Montgomery County Historical Society photo archives.
The pipestem tower was an element of the 1897 pumping station known as the “Rockville Electric Lights and Water Works,” located in Rockville Park and the future Croydon Park. In the 1890s, Rockville grew both as a resort and as a town. With substantial residential appeal, the need for services grew. In about 1899, Rockville got its first water tower at a cost of about $20,000. Its construction signaled the dawn of local municipal water service. Prior to the tower’s construction water in the city was primarily drawn from private wells. Concern for water quality in the 1880s led to the decision to develop a municipal system. The stand pipe was a typical shape for a water tower at the turn of the century. From this high point, water could be piped throughout the town. The chimney stack originally extended to a height of 50’, as documented in the Sanborn maps 1908, 1915.
Built in 1879, the Pump House at Croydon Park is a historic building in Rockville and the site of the first municipal water supply. Once known as the “Rockville Electric Lights & Water Works.” the building was the City’s first public water system and supplier of electricity for street lights and private homes.