Upcoming fundraiser to support water tower restoration

An online silent auction and drive-thru dinner option are planned in order to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

Brainerd Historic Water Tower Sunset3.jpg
Historic Brainerd water tower Wednesday, April 8, 2020, at sunset. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Chicken wings and pulled pork are on the menu for the upcoming historic water tower fundraiser.

With a $20 donation, those interested in contributing to saving the iconic downtown structure can reserve a plate of chicken wings or pulled pork from Pit Happens Catering during the event set for 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, at the Brainerd American Legion, 708 Front St.

The outdoor event will take place in the parking lot at the Legion, with food served in to-go containers and limited outdoor seating available. Masks and social distancing are strongly encouraged, and a drive-thru option will be available for those who do not want to leave their vehicles. Advanced tickets will be available through the Brainerd Historic Water Tower Facebook page closer to the event. Tickets will also be available at the event.

Silent auction items will be set up inside the Legion for viewing, but all bidding will take place online at , which is not yet a live link. The auction will be open 2-8 p.m. on the day of the event.

All funds raised will go toward saving the water tower, which needs repairs estimated at up to $1.6 million to avoid being destroyed.


For questions about the event, contact Ashley Storm at or 218-831-9717.

Get involved

Direct donations to save the water tower can be made via debit and credit card by clicking the “Donate Now” button at ; and cash or checks can be sent to Brainerd Community Action, 321 S. Seventh St., Suite 105, Brainerd, MN, 56401. Checks should be made out to Brainerd Community Action, and all donations should include a note earmarking the funds for the water tower. A GoFundMe is available at .

Check donations of $250 or more will be eligible for refunds in the event the tower cannot be saved. The rest of the donations would go to Brainerd Restoration.

Water tower paraphernalia — like buttons, keychains, T-shirts and cribbage boards — are available for purchase at Visit Brainerd on Laurel Street.

Those interested in joining the water committee can apply at . The committee meets at 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month, with the next meeting scheduled for Oct. 21 at Brainerd City Hall. Meetings are open to the public.

A new roof needed

A new roof is the first step to saving the aging structure, which prompted city council discussion in 2018 after chunks of stucco fell.

With repairs estimated to be costly, the council agreed in October 2018 to allow citizens to form a committee to raise the funds. If the funds were not raised in two years, the council said the tower would be destroyed and earmarked $300,000 for the task.

RELATED: Water tower committee moves toward nonprofit status; Designs for a new tower roof in the works
With the October 2020 sunset date approaching, the committee will present to the Brainerd City Council Oct. 5, in hopes of getting permission to continue fundraising efforts past that deadline.


The group has raised more than $20,000 so far, in addition to the historical society grant to fund plans for a new roof, which is needed to keep water out of the bowl and prevent deterioration. If all goes smoothly, the group expects work to begin on the roof in 2022, but more funds are still needed to make that happen.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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