The Issue: Removal of Andersonville's Water Tower
It's never good when water drips through your roof, but when that water is coming from an 11,000-pound block of ice, it's undeniably dangerous. That's what happened to Andersonville's Swedish American Museum, though. The iconic water tower above it, painted with the Swedish flag, had frozen solid—the result of the uncommonly harsh winter and the failure of a heating mechanism—damaging the bands that held it together. When the thaw started to melt the ice, the water began leaking into the Museum. At great cost and emotional strain, the Museum had the tower removed on Thursday, March 20—but the staff aren't the only ones pained at its loss. The yellow cross of Sweden's flag long stood as "a treasured symbol of the Andersonville community," Alderman Harry Osterman said.
The Campaign: Restoring the Andersonville Water Tower
All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by the Swedish American Museum to restore Andersonville's historic Swedish landmark. Every $10, $25, or $50 raised will be put toward the reinstallation of the Andersonville water tower or the creation of a new iconic landmark that honors Andersonville's Swedish heritage. In the past, similar projects have cost upwards of $200,000.
Swedish American Museum
Chicago is a hub of cultural diversity—Andersonville's Swedish American Museum makes that clear. Originally built in 1976 by Swedish immigrant Kurt Mathiasson, what is now a stalwart guardian of Swedish-American hertiage began as a small storefront log cabin, housing local family histories. His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, gave his blessing to the project by holding the official opening ceremony, but the minds behind the museum had even grander plans. After a decade of collection and education, they moved the Museum to its current, larger location, and invited the King back to celebrate with them again.
After that illustrious beginning, the Museum held permanent exhibitions on the Swedish-immigrant experience, including passports and folk crafts as well as information on why the immigrants left, what they packed for their voyages, and what careers they chose in Chicago. The onsite Brunk Children’s Museum of Immigration also hosts interactive displays to teach kids about life for ancient Swedes and the crossing to America, whereas the Nordic Family Geneology Center assists people in researching their family's lineage.