Welcome to the grassroots effort to rebuild the historic Water Tower Barn in Scandia, Minnesota. This iconic building, which previously stood in the Scandia Village Center on Olinda Trail next to the Scandia Cafe, was dismantled by the local company Rustic Innovations and carefully marked for future reconstruction after the previous owner decided to raze the building.
The Scandia Heritage Alliance, an official nonprofit organization, is actively seeking to rebuild the Water Tower Barn as a public gathering space in Scandia. Funds raised via GoFundMe will finance the purchase of the deconstructed barn materials and will pay for initial architectural planning. All work by Scandia Heritage Alliance members is on a volunteer basis, and funds raised will be applied specifically to the Water Tower Barn project.
Contributions to this campaign are tax deductible donations to Scandia Heritage Alliance.
The Water Tower Barn is integrally tied to the early beginnings of Scandia. According to the book “Scandia Then and Now," visionary businessman Frank Lake built the barn as part of an early commercial center that included the Scandia Mercantile, which was a bustling business by the turn of the century.
The book notes, "Frank Lake began his career as a house-to-house peddler in the Bone Lake area when he was a young boy. ... In1879 he established a store in Scandia. At first it was little more than a shack, but the business prospered and a larger building was erected. Later one addition after another was made to the physical plant, until eventually the store was a rather imposing complex of sheds, storage areas and even a barn in addition to the two-story structure where merchandise was displayed and sold."
The book notes that the barn contained a tower and housed a well, supplying water to the store and a number of residences in the immediate vicinity.
The company Two Pines Resource Group conducted an historic analysis of the Water Tower Barn in 2013. Their report notes the following:
"From its construction, the Tower Barn was intended to house a water supply system. The building’s distinctive tower was built to support a windmill to pump the well below and most likely housed an elevated water tank to increase water pressure. During the second half of the 19th Century, combinations of windmills and elevated holding tanks were used by municipalities, railroads, and large ranches as a means of supplying water. When the tank is enclosed within a building, the structure is often referred to as a 'tank house' or 'well tower.'
"During the course of this preliminary research, no records of a 19th-century tank house in Minnesota were located and no others are known to be extant. Therefore, not only is the Scandia Tower Barn a rare surviving example of this technology, but it may be a unique structure within the state. Furthermore, while most water systems are held by a municipality, the history of this structure as a private, cooperative water system is also significant."