Historic Gatehouse at Crescent Hill Reservoir Open for Tours

Louisville Water Company is allowing a rare look inside one of its historic buildings.  

The Crescent Hill Reservoir gatehouse is open for tours, but just for a limited time.

The reservoir is a popular spot for runners and walkers, but most of the time the gatehouse is off-limits to the public.

Louisville Water Company is offering tours of the Gothic-style building, constructed in 1879.  It houses the original valves that regulated the flow of water into the reservoir, where most of the city’s drinking water is filtered.

“The water is pumped directly from the Ohio River, it comes up Zorn Avenue.  There are two, 60-inch water mains, and the water is dumped out right here, right here by the front door,  that is raw Ohio River water,” said tour guide Jim Lile, a retired water company employee. 

Lile says the structure has long been a curiosity to regular reservoir visitors, so the water company began letting them come inside on a limited basis several summers ago.

The gatehouse was designed by water company chief engineer Charles Hermany, and like much of Louisville’s history, is linked to Germany.  

“Mr. Hermany was on a tour of Germany, going down the Rhine River and saw this castle and it’s my understanding that he made drawings of it, came back and here it stands.  I’m sure it’s much smaller than the castle he saw, but it’s representative of what he did see,” Lile said. 

Free tours of the Crescent Hill Reservoir gatehouse will be conducted from 11:00am-1:00pm and 6:00-8:00pm each Wednesday through the end of July.   Don’t come if there’s lightning.   

Rick Howlett

Rick Howlett is WFPL's Broadcast Managing Editor and also produces feature and general assignment radio stories.

@rickhowlett

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