Hope, N.D.'s 'Little Smiley' comes down
Hope, N.D., could claim the title of the Last Original Smiley Standing -- at least for a day in eastern North Dakota. A contractor began dismantling the old community water tower -- dubbed Little Smiley in reference to the more famous Smiley wate...
Hope, N.D., could claim the title of the Last Original Smiley Standing -- at least for a day in eastern North Dakota.
A contractor began dismantling the old community water tower -- dubbed Little Smiley in reference to the more famous Smiley water tower in Grand Forks -- on Thursday. Crews expect to finish the job today.
"They took the bowl off this morning, and they're working on the legs," City Auditor Tyrone Hauge said Thursday afternoon.
The Smiley water tower in Grand Forks was taken down Wednesday, to the dismay of protesters who argued the tower should be preserved as a historic community landmark.
But the Grand Forks City Council decided it would be more fiscally responsible to demolish the old Smiley water tower for $60,000 rather than spend nearly $400,000 for renovation.
Grand Forks officials also decided to have a new Smiley face painted on a Purpur water tower, located near Purpur Arena, across DeMers Avenue.
The old water tower in Grand Forks was built in 1931. The Smiley face was added in 1977.
Hope's Smiley water tower traces its heritage to a water-sewer project that began in 1948. New wells and a pump house were built in 1958, said Marcia Mitzel, a member of the City Council in this Steele County town of 300 located about 70 miles southwest of Grand Forks.
The Hope water tower, originally silver and later blue, was repainted in 1972 and 1982. The current Smiley face was added in 1984, at a cost of $5.
Hope's Smiley water tower recently was replaced by a 100,000-gallon water tower as part of a $625,000 project, including $25,000 for removal of Little Smiley. The project was financed through a U.S. Department of Agriculture Department Rural Development Grant, along with Bank of North Dakota and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loans, according to Mitzel.
When news spread about the fate of Little Smiley, Runstrom Coatings, a Cloquet, Minn., painting contractor that specializes in water towers, answered the call. The company, which already had the painting contract for Hope's new water tower, offered to paint a Smiley face on the new structure.
Smiley-face and other whimsical water towers grew into something of a national phenomenon in the 1970s. Today, dozens of them survive in at least 16 states all over the country, according to RoadsideAmerica.com.
Smiley faces aren't the only wistful water tower designs. Others around the country include community icons -- pumpkins, tomatoes, baseballs, coffee pots and even catsup bottles. Over the years, smiley faces also have been painted on sides of barns and other countryside buildings.
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