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The Suburbanite
  • Postcard from East Sparta: Town pump has a long history

  • This brick structure has housed the now-disabled pump ever since bricklayers came to East Sparta 90 years ago. The town pump had stuck up out of the well long before that, of course — since 1846, history records.

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  • A man doing business on state Route 800 as it passes through East Sparta can give motorists directions on how to get to the town pump.
    “Take the next right, and then a left, and if you don’t see the next stop sign, you’ll run right into it.”
    Indeed, the town pump sits right in the middle of the village, where Walnut Street crosses Main Avenue SE. Warning signs — “Keep Right” and “Do Not Enter” — are posted on the brick building that has surrounded the pump for decades. A stone inset into the brick gives details of the building itself.
    “ERECTED AUG. 5, 1921.”
    The structure has housed the now-disabled pump ever since bricklayers came to East Sparta 90 years ago to work on a pumping station, said Charlene Stelluto, who worked a few years ago with the East Sparta Woman’s Club to get the pump listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Townspeople housed and fed the workers, she explained.
    “Because of this, they wanted to do something for the town,” she said.
    So they gave the town’s pump a sturdy home.
    The town pump had stuck up out of the well long before that, of course — since 1846, history records.
    “People who would travel through the village would stop and water their animals and, I guess, get water themselves,” said Stelluto. “Back in the old days, before Route 800 was established, this was the main road. You had to go around the pump and everybody would stop and take pictures of it.”
    Stelluto, who has lived in East Sparta for seven decades, remembers the days when a metal cup hung from the pump so people would have a means of obtaining a drink.
    “My mother told us not to drink from the cup. She told us to take our own cups.”
    Her family lived near the town pump in those days — she still lives only a couple of blocks from it — and occasionally it would be put to emergency use by her parents.
    “Whenever we would have problems with our water, my mother and father would go over to the pump for water. I can remember carrying a little jar back while they carried buckets.”
    In a sense, the town pump is a part of Stelluto’s family. She has a photo of her grandfather putting the tile roof on the pump building in 1921 and another photo of a great-uncle restoring the roof in 1962.
    Another renovation took place in the 1980s. And the pump itself was replaced about 15 years ago when the original was stolen. It later was found in pieces, and in time, may be restored.
    The village is planning to replace wood and tile on the roof of the pump structure, and improve the landscaping around it. Call it beautification, but it’s more like historical restoration, even if it still won’t be functional.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I guess there used to be this sort of thing in many towns, but most of them have been torn down,” said Stelluto. “Ours is still here. We just want to make sure nobody forgets it.”