WATER AND POWER
- Grant Recipient
- 220 West Sunrise Highway, Freeport, NY
- 40.65609, -73.592096
Freeport Landmarks Preservation Commission
The Municipal Water Department helped provide a pressurized water supply for the Village of Freeport. The introduction of this pressurized water system offered greater potential for effective firefighting. Fire became a major concern after Freeport’s Union Free School burned down in 1893.
As Freeport History Encyclopedia notes of the historical fire which “destroyed the wooden school building on Pine Street,” “lack of a municipal water service forced firemen to form a bucket brigade while local residents tried in vain to put out the flames by throwing snowballs.” In 1894, Village residents approved the construction of a $40,000 municipal water plant and William R. Smith was appointed its first superintendent. In 1898, the small brick pumping station, located on Centre Street (now Sunrise Highway) was enlarged to include an electric power plant. Freeport had 450 water consumers in 1907. Six years later, the number of consumers increased to 1,450.
A ca. 1962 historical photo on New York Heritage Digital Collections shows the original brick pumping station, now ivy-covered, alongside its electric power plant addition. A water tower is also visible in the background. The Encyclopedia also records a series of eight different water towers built throughout the twentieth century to accommodate the Village’s ever-expanding water consumption. Having enacted compulsory water metering in 1946, by 1951 Freeport water consumption reached 727,126,108 gallons annually. Plans were developed in 1954 to construct Wells No. 7 and No. 8.
In connection to the water tower depicted in the photograph, the May 5, 1955 edition of The Leader reported that a canvas tarpaulin used in painting the water storage tank at the village power house on West Sunrise highway, broke loose in the strong wind, and fell on main feedlines of the electricity transmission system. The incident, apparently, resulted in a 10-minute blackout.
In 2017, Freeport Landmarks Preservation Commission was awarded a NY State Historic Marker by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation recognizing the site of the original pumping station on Sunrise Highway.