Special Places in the Southwest CAC
Our last historical entry was about the Carolina Pines Hotel. This entry is about the E.B. Bain Water Treatment Plant located just west of South Wilmington Street on Fayetteville Street. Read about the history below, then check out current day art projects at www.bainproject.com.
Located at 1810 Fayetteville Road on Walnut Creek, the E. B. Bain Water Treatment Plant was constructed in 1939 – 1940 on the site of the 1887 water treatment plant that served the city of Raleigh. Noted as the most handsome industrial building in the city, the massive brick, tile, and metal Bain Water Treatment Plant was designed by architectural engineer William C. Olsen in a restrained classical/Art Deco motif. The $700,000 construction of the building was funded by a City of Raleigh bond issue and the Depression-era federal Public Works Administration (PWA).
The nearly eight-acre site located just south of downtown Raleigh contains the massive, elegant brick treatment house and three clear storage reservoirs. The treatment building is entered through the head house into a generously-dimensioned two-story lobby with a mezzanine circling the upper level. The mezzanine is gained by a monumental stair defined by decorative wrought iron balusters and solid oak hand rails. The railings are repeated on the mezzanine that is supported by tall, narrow columns with fluted capitals. The walls of the lobby and mezzanine are finished with ashlar plaster above a glazed tile wainscot, and the floors are red quarry tile. The mezzanine space is illuminated by original segmental-arched doorways with double French doors, sidelights, and transoms, and the building retains original elegant bronze Art Deco pendant lights and wall sconces. In all, building’s proportions and attention to design detail reflected the stringent standards of the 1930s for federally-funded public building projects. As such, it is easy to understand why the Bain Water Treatment Plant is noted as an excellent example of the high level of design for utilitarian structures produced under PWA sponsorship.