Audio: “Filtration Plant” featuring Tom Castaldi. Courtesy of 89.1 WBOI.
Fort Wayne’s Three Rivers Water Filtration Plant stands at the convergence of the St. Mary’s and St. Joseph Rivers, where they meet to form the Maumee River. The 25-acre site east of Spy Run was chosen as the location for the plant for numerous reasons. The land was already owned by the City of Fort Wayne, which was the proposed spot for the Three Rivers Park at the time of construction in the early 1930s. Also, this location was ideal for sending water to all parts of the city, because it was a central location in the city. Also, because of its natural landscape, the plant could be made attractive.
The plant was designed by Hoad, Decker, Shoecraft, and Drury of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Originally it was supposed to be designed as a simple factory where water would be treated; however, in 1931 designers realized it would add no more than two percent of the cost to add an architectural flourish to it. It was then decided that this “water factory” should be designed in a Collegiate Gothic Style. The plant was eventually completed in 1933. Over the years, the plant has expanded two times, therefore being able to produce more safe drinking water than before. In 1933, engineer R.L. McNamee wrote,
“The architectural finish of the new Three Rivers station has afforded the architect an unusual opportunity to use the nationally known product of our state: Indiana limestone. City officials gave much thought to the selection of an artistic yet durable color and texture of stone, and the wisdom of their choice is well expressed in the pleasing ensemble of the structure as a whole.”
Along with the filtration plant, two other water facilities were completed in the city: the St. Joseph River Water Dam and Pumping Station were built across from Johnny Appleseed Park. This filtration plant was the first major structure built.
In 1954, an addition was completed and the plant doubled its capacity. The plant could now treat an additional 24 million gallons a day. In 1979, the plant underwent another addition, adding capabilities to treat another 24 million gallons. In 2009, the filtration plant had more modernization done to it. Although, the Three Rivers Water Filtration Plant has had several additions and upgrades throughout the years, it has retained its original Collegiate Gothic Style. It is because of this feat that they received an ARCHIE in 2009 for New Construction of a Commercial Property.