Marianna Waterworks

The Marianna Waterworks, located at 252 U.S. Highway 79 in Marianna (Lee County), is a water distribution complex constructed in 1936–37 with the assistance of the Public Works Administration (PWA), a Depression-era federal relief program. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 24, 2007.

As the United States struggled with the Great Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration enacted the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) to ease the effects of businesses closing. The act included an organization called the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works (or Public Works Administration), which was created on June 16, 1933, to help finance federal construction projects and create jobs.

Like many other Arkansas communities, Marianna had an outdated water system, and so the city decided to seek PWA funds to construct a modern, state-of-the-art facility to serve the Marianna and the surrounding area. The federal agency awarded the city’s Waterworks Improvement District No. 2 a $5,162 grant for the project on July 21, 1933, with a total anticipated cost of $11,697. The project ultimately included construction of a Spanish Revival–style Waterworks Department Office, a pair of clear wells, a water wheel, an aeration chamber, and a well house.

The key component of the waterworks was a 100,000-gallon water tank, which was the focus of the PWA grant matched with a reserve fund that Waterworks Improvement District No. 2 had built up for the project. The district accepted a low bid of $11,070 from the Chicago Bridge and Iron Works on September 24, 1936. Construction on the tower started in late November 1936, which included removal of the obsolete tower that previously had served the city. The project was completed by February 10, 1937. That water tank was replaced around 1980.

Though its PWA-built water tower no longer survives, the striking Spanish Revival office buildings and support facilities continue to serve the needs of the citizens of Marianna and Lee County in the twenty-first century.

For additional information:
“Begin Work Monday on New Water Tank.” Courier-Index, November 26, 1936, p. 1.

Hall, Joanna. “Marianna Waterworks.” National Register of Historic Places registration form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at (accessed January 16, 2019).

Hope, Holly. “An Ambition to be Preferred: New Deal Recovery Efforts and Architecture in Arkansas, 1933–1943.” Little Rock, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, 2006. Online at (accessed January 16, 2019).

“Let Contract for New Water Tank.” Courier-Index, September 24, 1936, p. 1.

“To Receive Bids for New Water Tank.” Courier-Index, September 17, 1936, p. 1.

Mark K. Christ
Central Arkansas Library System


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