After fires destroyed the Neil House hotel in 1860 and the Lunatic Asylum of Ohio in 1868, Columbus leaders decided more than springs and wells were needed.

In February 1870, Columbus City Council approved an ordinance with plans for a water works.

Later that month, a contract was reached with Holly Manufacturing Co. of Lockport, New York, to supply parts.

The building was erected on 8 acres at the mouth of the Olentangy River.

The land was purchased from W.A. Neil for $8,000. William Monypeny, Richard Nevins and Charles Ambos were appointed trustees in April, and construction soon began.

The first water began running through the pipes March 6, 1871.