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Swedish museum water tank to be replaced with replica

An iconic blue-and-yellow water tower in Andersonville, damaged in March as a result of brutal weather, will be dismantled and replaced with a replica, the museum announced Saturday.

A crane holds a water tower tank in place as workers cut it loose before lifting the tank off the Swedish American Museum. | Michael Schmidt/Sun-Times

The tower, perched above the Swedish American Museum at 5211 N. Clark St., partially collapsed under the weight of thousands of pounds of ice. A casualty of the city’s punishing winter, the tower had begun dripping water onto the museum roof.

Crews were brought in and detached the tank from the roof, lowered it to the ground and placed it in the museum parking lot, as museum officials pondered its future and faced questions about the tank’s fate.

On Saturday, museum board member Stephen Anderson said the museum will build a replica to replace the iconic tank tower. Anderson said the tank will be dismantled, with some of its timbers salvaged.

The tank has left the building. | Michael Schmidt/Sun-Times

The museum is trying to raise $150,000 to re-create the tower. It already has raised $70,000.

The removal of the tower in March drew a crowd, with many hoping the tower could be salvaged. After a full day of heating the ice inside the tower, it was removed and placed on a flatbed truck on Clark Street. It was then stored in the museum’s parking lot for eight months.

The tower was built in 1927 above what was then Lind Hardware and was the source of water for the building’s fire-suppression system. The tank is 16 feet long and has held up to 20,000 gallons of water. In the 1990s, according to Anderson, it was painted with a yellow cross on a blue background, to resemble the Swedish flag.

A crane holds a water tower tank in place as workers prepare to lift it off the Swedish American Museum in March. | Michael Schmidt/Sun-Times