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The Essex Community Historical Society

PO Box 8388 Essex, Vermont 05451



The Essex Community Historical Society wants to tell you about a special project the ECHS Board is undertaking and to ask for your help.

As many of you know, ECHS used to open the Water Tower located at Fort Ethan Allen several times a year to the public. Each time the water tower was open, around 100 adults and children walked up the 103 stairs to see the view of the Champlain Valley from the top. Board members told the story of the Water Tower, the first structure to be built at the Fort in 1893, and the history of the Fort from its beginning as a United States Calvary post to its ending as a United States Air Force base.

However, the 100-plus-year-old stairs have deteriorated to the point where it is no longer safe to climb them, and ECHS is unable to open the Water Tower to the public. The ECHS Board wants to preserve a very important part of the Town of Essex's history and to pass on the history of the Water Tower and the Fort for generations to come. In keeping with our mission to preserve Essex history, we decided to embark on our largest historic preservation project since our founding 25 years ago, the 'Restore the Water Tower Campaign' to raise the $440,000 needed to repair and restore the stairs, roof, and the masonry of the Water Tower.

The Restore the Water Tower Campaign has included soliciting donations of money and in-kind goods and services and submitting applications for historic preservation grants. Most of the historic preservation grants require a 50/50 match and many have a stipulation that work needs to be started, and sometimes completed, within a year of receiving the grant funding. Therefore, it is imperative to have our 50 percent available before submitting the application. Also, having local monies available at the time of the grant application shows local support which is sometimes asked about by granting agencies.

The Restore the Water Tower Campaign progress to date:

December 2016 – ECHS received approval from the Town of Essex Selectboard to solicit donations and apply for grants.

January 2017 – ECHS fundraising began by sending letters announcing campaign to the ECHS membership.

January 2017 – December 2021 – ECHS continued fundraising and submitted grants with several grants being approved; Town of Essex Selectboard and voters approved funds in their capital budget on a yearly basis for the Restore the Water Tower Campaign.

March 2022 – Total of $119,000 had accumulated in the Town of Essex Capital budget; ECHS had raised another $21,140 in donations and grants. Total raised is enough to cover the cost of the roof repairs and installation of new windows.

April 2022 – ECHS applied for Congressionally Directed Spending funds for stair and masonry repairs.

Summer/Fall 2022 – roof and window project bidding and construction will begin.

We hope you feel preserving the Water Tower is as important as we do - remember the amount of your donation is not as important as your monetary support in any amount. Volunteer help is also needed and there is a place on the form for you to include your willingness to do so.
Here is the donation form

We will keep you informed of restoration progress here on this website and in our newsletter the ECHO.
We hope to see you there, and we thank you for any support you can give ECHS for the Restore the Water Tower Campaign.

Want to join me in making a difference? You can help by raising money for the Essex Community Historical Society. Any donation will help make an impact. Thanks in advance for your contribution to this cause that means so much to me.
There are several ways to donate, you can donate by check, or if you prefer to use a Credit Card, you can use the online donation link below.

Fort Ethan Allen Water Tower Restoration Fund:

Below are some links to historical information about the Fort Ethan Allen Water Tower.
For additional information and ways to help support the Fort Ethan Allen Water Tower Restoration, or if you have any questions, please contact the ECHS President, Eva Clough,
or ECHS Treasurer, Ann Gray.


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The Water Tower
Fort Ethan Allen Museum
Pictures of The Water Tower - Page 1
Pictures of The Water Tower - Page 2
Pictures of The Water Tower - Page 3
At the Town Meeting promoting the Restore The Tower campaign