Walking home to Glenwood South from Fayetteville Street, my wife and I have often been drawn to the unique, historic building at 115 W Morgan Street, which served for many years as Raleigh’s primary water source. Made of stone and brick and built in 1887, it’s on the market for the first time since 1938, when it was converted into architectural offices, later becoming the AIA state headquarters.  

At $685k, it seems like an amazing opportunity for living, working or even entertainment/dining space.  We can just imagine eating outside by candle light in the little private outdoor courtyard nestled amidst the crepe myrtles.  

A little history . . .

As an historic structure, the Raleigh Water Tower holds double significance. Its construction signaled the dawn of local municipal water service.  Half a century later, its renovation became one of Raleigh’s first examples of adaptive reuse. The stone and brick structure was erected in 1887.  

Prior to the tower’s construction, water in the city was primarily drawn from private wells and cisterns. Concern for water quality in the 1880s led to the decision to develop a municipal system.  A private company was contracted to draw water from Walnut Creek immediately south of the city. There, water was conveyed from a dam by pipes to a nearby pump house.  Steam pumps forced the water through sand filters and either into a large reservoir on site or through pipes to the water tower downtown. The tower’s upland location and 85-foot height assured constant pressure for subscribers. Originally, its octagonal tower supported a 100,000 gallon water tank.  An attached two-story building facing Morgan Street housed offices, while a stand-alone building to the rear contained a maintenance shop.

Historic view of Raleigh Water TowerBy the early 1900s the system was supplying the entire city. A subsequent burst of residential growth, however, stressed capacity. The city acquired the operation in 1913, and soon thereafter created a larger impoundment upstream, removing the 1887 dam. The downtown water tower was abandoned in 1924, its tank removed and a larger metal tower erected further west. The city long considered demolishing the earlier structure, but in 1938 sold the property to Raleigh architect William Henley Deitrick. Deitrick, who chose to convert the aging tower into his architectural offices.  Renovations included removing the nine 12×12 inch heart pine columns which once supported the tank, and creating four interior floors.  In 1963, Deitrick deeded the water tower to the North Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), which undertook a significant renovation of the site in the 1990s, continued to maintain the property as its state headquarters.