Monee Legacy of Old Tower Will Continue to Shine

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By Karen Haave
Monee’s old water tower behind the Main Street fire station is gone, dismantled after it was deemed unsafe to remain standing.
But the iconic holiday stars that glowed from the top for almost 50 years have been saved and are shining brightly–two in front of the village hall and one at the police department.
The fourth star has been given to the Monee Historical Society with tentative plans to mount it on the roof next Christmas.
“I think anyone living in Monee since the 1960s remembers looking forward with anticipation to the ‘lighting of the stars’ as being the beginning of the holiday season in Monee,” said Christi Holston, president of the historical society there.
“It does make me a bit nostalgic to remember coming back to Monee and knowing that when you saw the stars you were almost home. My Dad would take us for a ride around town to see the Christmas lights, but nothing compared to the stars shining above our village.”
The tower was built in 1959 with a 50,000-gallon capacity and a tank that was only 1/4 inch thick. Bisping Construction Co built the well case, and Chicago Bridge & Iron built the tower. A company from Beecher dug the original well.
“A motor and pump were installed and pumped water into the railroad cut for several days in an effort to lower the water table, but were unable to do so,” Holston said.
“It was said that the water was coming from Lake Superior.
“The first star went up in 1965 or 1966. It was a single star on the top. It was made by Dave Battenfield and Jim Booth, and placed on top by Jim. Later in the early 1970s, it was changed to four stars, one facing in each direction.
“Jim said he only had a 50-foot rope, and so he would climb up 50 feet and then pull the star up behind him, then climb another 50 feet and so on until he got to the top.
“Eventually the stars stayed on the tower all year long, and Jim Booth climbed the tower every year to light them.”
Prior to the Water Tower, Monee residents got their water from the old pump house that was torn down a few years ago. It housed two large tanks that were so old they were riveted together, not welded, Holston added.
“Eventually they got so rusty that little holes started to develop and leak,” she said. “To fix this until the new tower was built, they would pound a bolt into the hole and then weld that closed to stop the leak.”
Last August, the village board of trustees approved the demolition of the old tank and tower.
“I stopped by the demolition site today and watched as the welder cut out the section of the water tower tank that says ‘Monee’ to save it,” Holston noted.
“We are thrilled that the village was able to do this and will be happy to work with them to figure out a fitting place to display this bit of Monee history.”

Karen Haave is a freelance reporter.

The old Monee water tower, a familiar landmark, especially during the Christmas season, was torn down due to its detereoration. (Photos by John Henson)

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