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The Waldo Water Tower, located in Waldo (Columbia County) on East Main Street west of its junction with North Skimmer Street, was constructed in 1935 and installed with assistance from the Public Works Administration (PWA), a New Deal public relief agency. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 29, 2007.
As the United States struggled with the Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration enacted the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) to ease the effects of businesses closing. The act included an organization called the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (or Public Works Administration), which was created on June 16, 1933, to help finance federal construction projects and create jobs.
The leaders of Waldo decided to take advantage of the PWA’s offerings and sought funding for a water system for the thriving mill town. The PWA awarded a $15,987 grant and a $43,500 loan on June 27, 1934, for the project. A bid request in the January 11, 1935, Arkansas Gazette sought contractors “furnishing all tools, equipment, labor and materials and the performance of all work required for the construction of a complete waterworks system for the Town of Waldo,” adding that “attention is called to the fact that not less than the minimum wage prescribed by the [PWA] must be paid.” The town also sought bids for a sewer system to be funded with $37,000 from the PWA.
The B&M Construction Company of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, received the contract for the project, and the firm received a work order to commence “construction of a $54,000 waterworks system” on April 23, 1935, with work “expected to start within 10 days.” The project, which included a water tower from the Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Company, was completed by May 27, 1936, according to PWA records. The Waldo Water Tower, along with a second tower constructed in the 1940s, continues to serve Waldo and the surrounding area in the twenty-first century.
For additional information:
“Bids on Waldo Projects Asked.” Arkansas Gazette, January 13, 1935, p. 4.
Hall, Joanna. “Waldo Water Tower.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at https://arkansaspreservation.worldsecuresystems.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/CO0422.nr.pdf (accessed January 17, 2019).
Hope, Holly. An Ambition to be Preferred: New Deal Recovery Efforts and Architecture in Arkansas, 1933–1943. Little Rock: Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 2006. Online at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/News-and-Events/publications (accessed January 17, 2019).
“Notice to Contractors.” Arkansas Gazette, January 11, 1935, p. 19.
“Waldo Awards Contract for Waterworks System.” Arkansas Gazette, February 2, 1935, p. 2.
“Work Order for Waldo Project.” Arkansas Gazette, April 24, 1935, p. 12.
Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System
Last Updated 1/17/2019
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