05
August
2011
|
09:17 PM
America/Chicago

The Pump Station: A Chunk of History Across the Bayou

One of Houston's most historic buildings is UHD's own Willow Street Pump Station, the city's first waste and sewage treatment facility. Just a few years ago, the facility was deteriorating so badly that even homeless people avoided it. The roof had caved in, windows were covered with plywood, the grounds were overgrown, and the station's crumbling walls threatened to fall into the bayou.

In 2003, UHD rehabilitated the little buildings and turned them into a modern, functional community space with wireless capabilities, LCD projection systems, and magnificent views of the bayou and UHD.

The facility is a beautiful addition to the UHD campus and if its walls could talk, we'd hear a fascinating history.

The Allen Brothers, the founders of Houston, originally planned to build a steam saw mill on that spot, but the plans fell apart in 1837 as leaders of the planned mill, the Texas Steam Mill Company, fell victim to shipwreck or yellow fever.

The tract of land remained empty throughout the 19th century, and Buffalo Bayou was used for transportation, drinking water and waste disposal—and not necessarily in that order. By the end of the century, citizens were complaining about the waste. The federal government threatened to no longer fund construction projects on the Houston Ship Channel unless the city cleaned up the bayou.

In 1902, the city responded by building the city's first waste and sewage treatment facility: the Willow Street Pump Station. The original upper building was for storage and the lower building on the banks housed the pump system, built into the steep slope of the hill. In 1915, an incinerator to burn solid waste was built adjacent to the storage building and helped to successfully clean the bayou.

Everyone should plan a visit to the beautiful Willow Street Pump Station. Truly one of Houston's most historic landmarks, we can be proud of UHD's involvement in restoring this historic treasure.

Sources:
"Willow Street Pump Station - Houston, Texas - U.S. National Register of Historic Places on Waymarking.com." 5 July 2007. Web. <www.waymarking.com>.
"Willow Street Pump Station." HoustonArchitecture.com. Web.