Willow Street Pump Station in Houston

Photo of Willow Street Pump Station in Houston, Texas
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz

Willow Street Pump Station
Also known as:Willow Street Lift Station

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Back from the dead after years of decay and neglect, the Willow Street Pump Station is often overlooked, even though it is one of the most historic buildings in the city. This was the linchpin in Houston's first sewer system. It is also the location of the Allen Brothers' first sawmill in Houston, and in 1915 became the location of a city crematorium where countless bodies were turned to ash.

For years, this building was abandoned. Windows became gaping holes. The roof caved in. And the interior was so squalid that even the homeless eschewed it. In late 2003, the University of Houston Downtown, located just across the water, spent $2,200,000.00 rehabilitating the little buildings and turning them into a community center, a center for the study of urban ecology, and a greenhouse. Not a bad re-use for a building that otherwise would have collapsed upon itself, and disappeared into the banks of the bayou.

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