After being closed for more than a decade, the Waterworks building in Davenport Park will be open to the public for one morning when the city hosts an Open House of the historic structure as part of its celebration of National Historic Preservation Month. On Saturday, May 26th, from 10:00am until 12:00pm, the public will have an opportunity to see the interior of the building since it was closed in 2005. Parking is available on site and at the adjacent St. Johns County Library’s Main Branch.
The Waterworks building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1898 as the pumping station for the city’s first water utility and remained in service until a new water plant opened in 1927 on West King St. The site was then developed into Davenport Park and the building continued in use as a little theatre, then home for the St. Augustine Arts Club, and later as the St. Augustine Garden Club. City Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline will offer welcoming remarks and city staff will be on hand to talk about the history, the rehabilitation, and the archaeological investigation of the site.
During the open house, visitors will be able to see that the exterior walls are now secure, windows and doors have been restored and the non-historic addition on the west side of the building has been removed. Historic finishes and materials are now visible on the inside although the interior restoration has yet to be completed. Work completed thus far was funded through a state grant that covered a careful architectural and engineering plans that led construction work over the last three years. Another phase of grant work is proposed that will be considered later this year by the Florida Historical Commission.
The building was deemed unsafe in 2005 when inspections reveled that mortar had been reduced to powder in some places threatening the stability of the brick walls that were carrying the load of a heavy truss system. The city began a diligent pursuit of historic preservation funding that would enable the restoration of the building.
The city is proud to host this open house as part of its celebration of National Historic Preservation month, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For more information about the Waterworks building’s open house, contact the city’s Planning & Building Department at 904-825-1065.
The photograph is The Waterworks building in 1915 when it was still serving as the pumping station for the city’s first water utility which it did until a new water plant opened in 1927 on West King St. (Photograph courtesy of the St. Augustine Historical Society).