The Witch's Hat Water TOWER
Like all parks in Minneapolis, Tower Hill Park is managed by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Visit their website www.minneapolisparks.org to reserve the park for a special occasion.
The "Witch's Hat" water tower is in Prospect Park, (known as Tower Hill park), the highest natural land area in the city of Minneapolis. Along with the Kenwood and Washburn water towers in Minneapolis, the Prospect Park water tower is one of the few original water towers standing today in the Twin Cities area.
The 110-foot Prospect Park Water Tower was built in 1913 with a holding capacity of 150,000 gallons. It was also built to be a bandstand; however, there was only one concert in the band shell because the musicians experienced difficulty in carrying their instruments up the inside spiral staircase of 101+16 steps. Up until Minneapolis Wi-Fi was deployed in 2010, it housed active city first-responder telecommunications equipment in the roof.
The tower observation deck is open one time per year only, during the annual Pratt School Ice Cream Social. This event occurs on the Friday evening after Memorial Day Weekend - either the last Friday in May or first Friday in June), 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. In recent years we typically serve nearly 2000 visitors (up from 600 - 800 before 2014), limiting the number of people in the tower to 80 at a time by means of a fixed number of passcards (not tickets).
recent history of the Tower
In 1986 the tower underwent major renovation for its preservation. An article in Southeast Newspaper, November, 1986, Volume 12, Number 8 by Bob Dull, described the project slated for completion in December. Much of the wooden roof underneath the tiles had rotted. The deteriorating roof would be repaired, and 10% of the roof tiles would be replaced; new ceramic green tiles would be manufactured in the original patterns. At the time, each new tile cost $13.85. The result was an estimated new life of another 100 years.
As part of the NRP process begun in 1994, a systematic effort on a weekly basis was made by neighborhood volunteers, particularly Joe Ring, to obliterate graffiti on the tower's base. Further restoration of the base was performed as part of the process to list the Tower on the National Register of Historic places.
In 1997 the Tower and Tower Hill Park were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. A historic plaque was added in 1997 to the base of the Tower, which has helped reduce graffiti. See a small gallery of tower pictures.