Before we get into the future of the Water Works, we want to tell you the story of it’s past. The venue has lived many lives over its 200 year history, with CEG’s tenure promising to be one of its best yet.
The Fairmount Water Works originally opened in 1815 as the country’s first public water system. The system originally consisted of a 3 million gallon reservoir and an Engine House with two steam engines to pump water. In 1821 a dam was built across the Schuylkill River (the falls you see today) to direct water to a Mill House with three water wheels.
Today, the Engine House is home to the Water Work’s Main Ballroom with the Mill House Deck the location for grand tented affairs. The facility’s industrial nature was disguised by a Classical Revival exterior, with robust columns and arches that are still the exterior for the venue.
The Water Works stopped functioning as a public water system in 1909. Since then the location has served several public functions including home of the Philadelphia Aquarium until 1962, and then a Public Pool until 1973. In December 2004, the property was acquired by the Karloutsos family who transformed the space into the popular Water Works Restaurant & Lounge.
The Fairmount Water Works is still owned by the City of Philadelphia and is part of the Fairmount Park System.
You can learn more about the history of the Water Works at www.fairmountwaterworks.org.
In our next Water Works blog we’ll showcase the gorgeous chandeliers – both new and old – that help give the Water Works its Neoclassic Revival design.