The Eden Park Pump Station’s Past Lives

Pumping water to Cincinnati neighborhoods was just the start for this Samuel Hannford–designed structure.

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

Ever walked through Eden Park and wondered what purpose the abandoned brick and sandstone structure on Martin Drive served? Complete with a castle-like watchtower, a four-story smokestack bearing actual gargoyles, and a tile roof, it looks like it was plucked straight from a princess’s storybook. But the building’s sandstone pediment, with the city’s seal and Cincinnati Water Works carved into it, tells a different story.

During the late 1800s, the city hired renowned architect Samuel Hannaford to design the Eden Park Pump Station and the 172-foot-tall Eden Park Standpipe on Cliff Drive, which together pumped water from a nearby reservoir to expanding neighborhoods like Walnut Hills. Thirteen years after their completion in 1894, the station was decommissioned and replaced by a newer one farther up the Ohio River. The pump station sat vacant for 32 years before the Cincinnati Fire Department converted it into a fire alarm station in 1939, and then, from 1988 to 2004, the Cincinnati Police Department used it as a dispatch center. In 2012, a local developer announced plans to convert it into a brewery but couldn’t raise sufficient funds. What life will it live next? Only time will tell.

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