MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The push is on to save one of the oldest water towers in the Twin Cities.

The Osseo water tower turns 100 years old this year, but it no longer serves as the city’s main water source. The repairs needed to keep it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I describe it as one square mile of paradise,” Kathleen Gette said, talking about Osseo.

Gette grew up in the small town, and she likes it so much that, after her mom died 5 years ago, she moved back into the house she grew up in.

“I bought the house. Here I am. Best decision I ever made,” Gette said.

It’s the small-town feel that brought her and her daughter, Lauren Bowe, back. And all of it seems to be held together by a century-old water tower, with a whistle that still blows twice a day.

“I’m always going to Minneapolis to visit all my friends, but when they come up here I always make them drive down Main Street, because it’s just fun because they don’t see that stuff anymore,” Bowe said.

However, the landmark that has become a symbol for the city may no longer have a leg to stand on. The tower is no longer used, as the city gets its water from neighboring Maple Grove.

The repair costs to keep it could cost more than $300,000. Parts of the tower are rusted out, and lead paint is a concern.

So the mother and daughter teamed up. Bowe created a Facebook page — Save the Osseo Water Tower — that shows a picture of the tower when it was just a year old.

“The page has 1,056 likes so far. Osseo about 2,400 residents, so people are responding,” Gette said.

The two have designed buttons to get the word out, and both have gone before the City Council. Gette has volunteered her free time.

A couple years ago she started a process to get the tower recognized by the National Registry of Historic Places, which could lead to grant funds to save and fix the tower.

She’s using the present to fight for the past.

“I realized I’m not the only person that loves the tower. It’s a part of my life. I grew up here. I’ve seen it, I can see it out my front window,” Gette said. “Just the thought of losing it is devastating.”

A historical consultant is currently writing a history of the water tower to submit to the Minnesota Historical Society in February. That will be key to see if the tower will have a chance to become part of the National Register of Historic Places.

John Lauritsen

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