How to Donate

Make Donation to: 
Preserve the Water Tower Fund
C/O Village of Oregon/Preserve the Water Tower Fund
117 Spring Street
Oregon, WI  53575

For More Information

Randy Glysch
Friends of the Historic Oregon Water Tower
316 S. Main Street
Oregon, WI  53575
(608) 291-0648

 

New Fundraising Goal - $15,000 by May 15th

We have a new fundraising goal, $15,000 by May 15th, 2015.  Our overall goal is $40,000.  We can do this, our community of the Village of Oregon believes in and supports community projects.  Checks can be made payable to:  Preserve the Water Tower Fund, and sent to the Oregon Village Hall, 117 Spring Street, Oregon, WI  53575.  All donations made are tax deductible.  For more information, contact Randy Glysch at (608) 291-0648 or email at rgbk316@charter.net.

 

The Village of Oregon Community Spirit is Alive

From the moment I volunteered to install landscaping around our Historic Pump House, and now with the inclusion of restoring the Pump House building itself, I’ve been so impressed with the Community Spirit that has emerged around this project.  Sometimes all you have to do is ask, and people will help.  My educational background is in Psychology, and I’ve always been fascinated with people and their behavior.  I believe that if you put your mind to something, it can happen, no matter what others might think.  Don't let others tell you can't do something, you can!

 

I’ve been so humbled by the amont of support the Pump House restoration project from the residents of Oregon.  When the Oregon Observer first ran the story about the landscaping project, and then the restoration efforts of the Pump House, several people contacted me wanting help.  I received a call from a woman who said her mother and father were long-time residents of Oregon, and had passed away.  She read about the landscape and restoration projects, and wanted to donated something in honor of her mother and father.  After a few conversations, she decided a new bench incorporated into the landscaping would be nice.  The bench is now in the plan.

 

Others neighbors within the Village have come up to me and pledged to use some their carpentry or gardening skills.  As the word gets out, I receive more and more inquiries about residents wanting to help.  They ask, what can I do.  Right now I tell them we need funds to accomplish the necessary repairs to the Pump House.

 

We I decided to go forward with organizing the restoration efforts, I felt compelled to do something myself to help raise funds.  In the past few years, I’ve become a stained glass maker.  I called the owner of the Firefly and asked if I might display a few pieces of my art glass in order to donate the proceeds toward the Pump House project.  I had three on display, and all sold within a few weeks.  I was able to add to a fund that had been started several years ago, I donated a $1,000 from the stained glass sales.

 

I had contacted Scott Meier, who is a local developer, to help me assess what the Pump House building needed in terms of repairs, and what it would cost for the repairs.  Scott grew up just a stones throw away from the Pump House and Water Tower, and so Scott has been an invaluable partner of the project.  Another great partner has been Judy Knutson of the Oregon Chamber.  Judy has given invaluable advice, and provided tireless help with my efforts to raise more funds.

 

As I tried to reach out to the business community, I sent letters, more letters, and emails to local business owners trying to get them involved in the project.  One couple I was able to meet with was Bonnie and Jerry Thiel of Mason’s on Main.  From the moment we met, I knew we would become friends because we shared the same passion for historic buildings.  One look at the Mason’s on Main restoration, and it’s very evident of their commitment to saving and reusing old buildings.  A few weeks ago, we had our first fundraiser at Mason’s, and Bonnie and Jerry provided some wonderful food & drink in a beautiful example of what a good restoration can look like.  We were also very lucky to have local businesses like Senor Peppers, Bergey Jewelry, Bill’s Food Center, Pizza Hut, DeBroux Diner, the Firefly, Peaceful Heart, & Academy of Sound donate items we auctioned off in a silent auction.  We collected $1,350 in a few hours.  The people who came were amazing.  Many of them got to the tour the Pump House for the first time.

 

I also want to mention how helpful the Oregon Senior Center, and Alison the Director have been over the past few months.  Alison has been putting in a article about the Pump House restoration in the Senior Center Newsletter, and she let me put up a display at the center about the project.  As a result, we have received donations from as far away as Iowa and Illinois, from seniors who once lived in Oregon.  The person who made a donation from Illinois wrote me a note that said the following:  I am enclosing $25 to the Historic Water Tower restoration.  I lived in Oregon the first 22 years of my life.  My dad had a jewelry store in town for 50 years.  Good luck on your endeavors”

 

All the examples I listed above show what type of community spirit Oregonian's have.  I’m so impressed with all the help residents have given in response to the Pump House project.  I’m very lucky to have moved to Oregon from Madison last year.  There are many other stories I could tell about the kindness and generosity I’ve encountered as we continue to move forward with the restoration of the Pump House, but I will stop here for now. 

 

 

 
 

Why the Pump House Deserves to be Restored

Since the early 1980’s when the Janesville Street Pump House and Water Tower ceased to function. it’s been used to store Village flags and lawnmowers used to cut the grass around the Veteran’s Memorial.  The Pump House has two small rooms, a small front room, and a large bigger room in the back.  There’s also a full basement underneath the building where the actual Water Tower pumps was located.

 

So why are we interested in restoring the Pump House, and what will the small building become?  Since the Pump House and Water Tower stopped being used in the early 1980’s, residents of the Village have recognized the historical significance of these two structures.  In 1843, C. P. Mosely constructed a house just west of the this site and started a hotel known at the Oregon Exchange.  In 1898, it was discovered that this area had a remarkable supply of water as a well was built for the Badger Cycle Company, and the Pump House and Water Tower were built on this site.  The Pump House started out with just one room, the front room as you now enter, was added later.  So the historical significance is there, it’s where the first Oregon house and Hotel were built, and it’s first Pump House and Water Tower that supplied water to Village residents.  Both the Pump House and Water Tower were designated a local cultural landmark by the Oregon Village Board on May 21, 1984, and were designated as a state and national historical site on October 16th, 2007.       

 

The Pump House and Water Tower are important for additional reasons, the revitalization of our downtown.  You can see the Water Tower from any direction you travel, it has become a downtown icon.  It fits well with the revitalization plans for our downtown.  Our downtown has become a nice place for residents and visitors to shop and dine.  With the addition of Señor Peppers in the historic Netherwood building and Mason’s on Main, our downtown has become a destination for many.  The restoration of the Pump House fits well within the revitalization of downtown.  The Pump House deserves to be brought back to life and used again as a new community space.  We are using the slogan Bringing Our Past into the Future.”  In the Village’s most current planning documents for TIF 3 (2005), the Project Plan mentions the Pump House and Water Tower in the recommendations:  

 

Water Tower Restoration - Project includes the inspection of the tower structural and coating stability and restoration as necessary.  An important downtown historical landmark, the tower is intended to be preserved as a focal point of the downtown and continued as a component of Village branding identification for logos, brochures, and signage.  Enhancement of the quality and appearance of the historic water tower to ensure it remains one of the official landmarks in the community.  Projects will also include needed restoration of the water tower and pump house and to provide continual maintenance.”

 

In the next several weeks there will be discussion regarding the use of the Pump House once restored.  The point of restoring the Pump House is to create and provide the venue for a new community space.  Even in late 1980’s suggestions like a Visitor Center, a small museum or gallery were offered.  Just recently at the fundraiser for the project at Mason’s on Main, we asked those who attended if they could see the Pump House as a Visitor Center, it was an unanimous yes.  We’ll see what comes of out the discussions.

 
 

You, Me, & Our Oregon Community

In 2013 when I proposed to the Historic Preservation Commission & Village Board to add some new landscaping around our historic Pump House, I had no idea was was about to happen.

 

As a Master Gardner, I had previously created new gardens at my Madison home and neighborhood.  I drafted a garden design and plant selections, but didn’t know exactly how I was going to obtain the needed plants and material to complete the project.

 

We I received the ok from both the Historic Preservation Commission and Village Board to go ahead with the project, I decided to contact some local Oregon nurseries and ask for donations.  I had only lived in the Village for a few months, and I was considered the Newbee.  I was amazed at what happened next.

 

I first met with Gordy Kopke of Kopke Greenhouses.  Gordy and I met at the Firefly for coffee, another great community asset.  Gordy was the first person I asked for help, and I was a little nervous.  I explained to Gordy who I was, what I wanted to do, and that I needed his help with the project.  I’ll never forget Gordy’s response, “Just give me a list of plants you’d like,”  I knew right then that moving to Oregon was the right decision.  My first experience proved to me that residents in the Village of Oregon had that small village Community Spirit.

 

Next I met with Nancy Nedveck from the Flower Factory.  I’ve also been a big fan of the Flower Factory, most of my 500 perennial plants in my previous Madison home were from the Flower Factory.  When I met with Nancy, she told me her grandfather was from Oregon, so her family had a connection with the Village.  Nancy’s reaction was much the same as Gordy Kopke’s, just tell me what you need.  My third visit was to Winterland Nursery, and as before, Jay Gould responded in much the same way, let me know what you need.  I have to say I was overwhelmed by the willingness of these nursery owners to help with the Pump House landscape.  The community spirit was certainly alive in Oregon.

 

I had scheduled one final meeting with Jeff Moyer of Moyer’s Landscaping.  Moyer’s is located between Oregon & Stoughton.  I had never been to Moyers.  As I drove to meet Jeff, I was going over in my head what help I was going to ask for.  I thought the plants for the landscape were pretty much covered by Kopke’s, Flower Factory, & Winterland.  I decided that I would ask Moyer’s to help with some mulch or ground cover.

 

As I began to met with Jeff, I wasn’t expecting what would happen next.  I explained to Jeff who I was, what I was trying to accomplish, my usual introduction speech.  I told Jeff I had met with other nursery owners as well.  I then presented my hand drawn design plan, and then it happened.  Jeff caught me off guard when he volunteered to have his designers recreate the landscaping plan into a professional plan with drawings, pictures of appropriate plants, & dimensions so that I could present this to the Historic Preservation Commission & Village Board for approval.  Jeff also talked about and volunteered to have Moyer’s install a nice paver edging around the entire Pump House.  I was in shock, I couldn’t believe what just happened, I was just going to ask for a little mulch for around the plants!  As I drove home, actually I don’t remember how I got home, I was in some state of disbelief as to what just happened.  I was amazed at how generous people were in wanting to help with this project.  Here was another example of the community spirit and willingness to help, it’s unbelievable.  Moyer’s did design a terrific plan, and I presented it to both the Historic Preservation Commission and Village Board, and it was enthusiastically approved.

 

When word of the landscaping project around the Pump House was published in the Oregon Observer, I received a call from the daughter of long-term Oregon residents who had passed away, but the family wanted to do something in memory of their parents.  The family wanted to purchase bench that could be incorporated into the landscaping plan.  This new bench is now part of the plan.

 

The community spirit I found when asking for help with the landscape plan has been my motivation to go beyond just the landscaping, to include the restoration of the Pump House.  I'm finding that same community spirit as we ask for donations and in-kind support for the restoration of the building.  Oregon certainly has COMMUNITY SPIRIT!

 

The Spirit of Joan Gefke Lives On

Before I got involved in the Pump House restoration & landscaping project, I had no idea who Joan Gefke was, I never met her, she passed away before I moved to the Village.  Soon after getting involved in the restoration of the Pump House, I read articles and heard stories from Village residents about Joan and her passion and determination to save the Pump House and Water Tower.  She was described as tenacious, feisty, and full of spirit.  Like those before her, she saw the Pump House and Water Tower for what they were, symbols of Oregon’s history that needed to be saved and preserved for generations to come after her.  In a guest column in the Wisconsin State Journal, Joan titled a editorial “Oregon Icon Worth Saving,” she was referring to the Water Tower, but my guess is she felt the same about the Pump House.

 

After much hard work, Joan I’m sure was instrumental in getting the Pump House and Water Tower designated by the Oregon Village Board as a Cultural Landmark.  She didn’t stop there, she was part of the driving force that got the Pump House and Water Tower designated as a state and national historic landmark.  In talking with those who knew her well, you wanted to be on Joan’s side, it sounds like it was hard not to be.  Joan was a long standing member of the Village Historic Preservation Commission.

 

In addition to her passion to save the Pump House and Water Tower, Joan wanted to save the Main Street school that was empty and ready for demolition.  According to Developer Gary Gorman, Joan was relentless in getting Mr. Gorman to consider buying and saving the old school.  She succeeded, today it’s beautifully restored and an important part of the our community.

 

We can't talk about the efforts to save the Pump House & Water Tower without talking about current Oegon resident Julia Myers.  Julia pick-up the torch a few years ago to once again write grants to save the Pump House.  She's to be commended for her efforts, and she was invaluable to me when I decided to take the task from her and pursue some grants and fundraising efforts.  Julia continues to be a big supporter of the restoration of the Pump House.  

 

Fast forward to the present, some folks in the Village have compared my own passion for saving the Pump House & Water Tower to that of Joan’s.  I’m very honored to have some of Joan’s spirit and appreciation for the past.  If Joan were still alive today, I think we would get along very nicely.  As I continue to work on this project, I think of Joan sometimes, and I think she would be proud of all of us trying to save our Oregon Icons.

 

The spirit of Joan Gefke lives on in Oregon.