One of my favorite architectural styles here are the Sonoma County Water Towers. Also known as Tankhouses, this vernacular architecture is native to California and while most are in ruins, there are a few that are being renovated or designed as part of a new home.
Sonoma County Water Towers date back at least to the 1850s. Built to house water tanks, it is a water tower that is enclosed by siding. The siding is what makes it a “house”, with usable interior space and they were a sign of prosperity. They became obsolete in the 1930s with the advent of modern day pumps and pressure systems.
Driving down our back roads it is a pleasure to see these buildings quietly being restored and incorporated into our modern day homesteads. The photo below is of one of the old towers being restored and used as a guesthouse. I’ve been eying this estate since I moved here and finally stopped to take a picture.
I’m even liking the modern take on these old gems that are being used by architects locally, and around the country as they design new homes and incorporate them into commercial space.
I often imagine them used as home offices, or a guest house when separate from the main home. Or, when the new home gets built up around it, perhaps an entry with master bedroom upstairs. Here in Sonoma County, with our rolling hillsides they can give the resident a birds eye view of valleys and the surrounding landscape.
To learn about the old as well as the renovated water towers, check out the book, “Tankhouse” by Thomas Cooper. In there he has captured these wonderful buildings around our state. To me there is nothing more native to our countryside then these wonderful old water towers.
Could you see your dream home incorporating a water tower?