Roland Water Tower Project

The octagonal, 148-foot Roland Water Tower sits between Roland Park, Hoes Heights, Rolden and Hampden. It is located at the intersection of University Parkway, Roland Avenue and Evans Chapel Road. Originally built in 1905 to provide water for Hampden, the Beaux Arts tower stored 211,000 gallons. It was decommissioned in the 1930s when the City’s reservoir system was installed. The area around the tower became a transportation hub—used as a turnaround spot for streetcars and then buses—but it eventually fell out of use. Over the years, the tower fell into disrepair and, in 2009, the City erected a chain link fence around it to protect people from falling debris.

The Roland Park Community Foundation (RPCF) chose the restoration of the Roland Water Tower as one of three major projects recommended in the 2011 Greater Roland Park Master Plan. With a mission to improve green and public spaces in our community, the RPCF understood this historic gem was not on the list of top priorities for the City and the only way for it to be preserved was if the community stepped up. 

Tower as it appeared before the renovation. Photo courtesy of RPCF
The view from the top. Photo courtesy of RPCF

Lewis Contractors repaired and stabilized the tower’s roof, replaced the plywood on the soffits with cement, repaired and replaced the balustrades, replaced the gutter, and installed new windows and a new door. They cleaned the plinth, along with much of the terracotta along the bottom of the tower. The project was completed on time and everyone is thrilled with the result. The work allowed the fence to be removed, which marked a significant milestone.

The Roland Water Tower restoration is now complete, after a decade of negotiating, fundraising and advocating.

Many thanks are due to members of the Roland Water Tower Committee, including Phil Spevak, Ian Macfarlane, Jamie Snead, Don McPherson, Richard Truelove, Peter Pearre, Suzanne Frasier and Ed Berlin. We also owe enormous gratitude to Al Copp, who led this effort for many years. Sadly, Al passed away in 2017 before he could see the fruits of his labor. 

Architect’s sketch of Water Tower Park. Image courtesy of Lee Driskill, Hord Coplan Macht

After completion of the $1.5 million restoration of the Roland Water Tower, the RPCF achieved its goal of bringing the space back to life. Friends of the Roland Water Tower now lead all events at the tower and will oversee further improvements. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to attend an upcoming event.

Peregrine falcon, tower resident. Photo: Sally Foster