Charlotte is not [generally] known for its historic buildings. It’s been said by many that Charlotte bulldozes its history, but that is not always the case. One of our very own buildings, the Vest Water Treatment Plant (Vest), has been considered a historic landmark by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. This 1920’s architectural style building has been a landmark on Beatties Ford Road for almost a century! It’s also been an anchor for growth.
The access to water from the Catawba River and the ability to treat water at a higher capacity then ever before made this area wide open for growth and development.
What is so cool about this building is that all of the old dials and knobs are still in place, and its the only plant that can be manually operated, which is an asset in a true emergency. But, if you look behind the curtain or controls, you will see that the plant has been updated and is just as high-tech as any new plant today. We love to talk about this building and how almost 100 years later, it is still a vital part of Charlotte’s economy and daily life.
Special significance in terms of its history, architecture, and/or cultural importance: The Commission judges that the property known as the Charlotte Water Works/Vest Station does possess special significance in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission bases its judgment on the following considerations:
1) The Charlotte Water Works was designed in 1922 Wm. M. Piatt, a well-known Durham engineer;
2) when completed in 1924, it was the largest and best equipped treatment plant in the state;
3) an addition designed in 1937 B. Atwood Skinner and T. S. Simpson, Jr. (architects) and George S. Rawlins (engineer) doubled the capacity of the plant and made it a "state of the art" water treatment plant;
4) the building was named Vest Station in honor of W. E. Vest, General Superintendent of the Charlotte Water Department for more than 30 years;
5) in 1949, Charlotte became the first city in the Southeast United States to use flouridation in the water at Vest Station. As a result, Charlotte was awarded a "Certificate of Recognition" in 1989 by the National Institute of Dental Research for its vanguard role in what has proven to be the "single greatest advancement in dental health history."
6) the Moderne style of the building is an excellent example of the civic and commercial architecture of 1920-1940; and
7) Charlotte Water Works/ Vest Station provides a stable element in the changing Beatties Ford Road corridor.
Until next week!
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Information taken from:
"What's so cool about the Vest Water Plant?" - Charlotte Water Blog
"Charlotte Water Works - Vest Station" - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmark Commission
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass