Bissell / College Hill


Bissell Point Water Works

The vicinity of East Grand Avenue is definitely linked to the development of the City Water Works system. The need for a new waterworks became apparent in 1863, when the City's existing system had become incapable of furnishing a plentiful water supply. In that year, the State legislature passed an enabling act for the new waterworks, creating a Board of Commissioners to administer it and authorizing issuance of $3,000,000 in bonds for construction.

In 1865, the Board appointed James P. Kirkwood as Chief Engineer. He devised a plan to locate a low service pumping station, settling basins and filter beds at Chain of Rocks, with a high service station at Baden and reservoirs at Compton Hill and near Wellston. This plan was rejected in 1866 in favor of a plant at Bissell Point, with basins but no filtering works. In 1867, Kirkwood was succeeded as engineer by Thomas J. Whitman, who supervised construction of the Bissell Point plant. Whitman was a brother of the poet Walt Whitman.

Upon completion in 1869 the Bissell Point high service pumping station consisted of handsome one and two story buildings of brick with cut stone trim. On a pediment above the main entrance were two sculptured figures symbolizing the "Union of the Waters" of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The plan included an engine room and boiler house with an ornamental smokestack 134 feet high. Large settling basins were located on the site, which was originally a portion of the Lewis Bissell estate.


Image - Pumping station building at Bissell Point Waterworks