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July 27, 2010

I received an unexpected postcard from the petite Polish town of Dąbrówno last week, sent by my friend Tim who was backpacking through Europe. He mentioned that he was shacking up in a converted water tower, and my ears perked up. Although not necessarily an ode to modernism, this abandoned water tower transformation seemed like a notable tribute to summer homeyness -- and I wanted to share what he shared with me.
 

Tim asked his grandfather how his family came to rehabilitate this water tower -- and as I expected, there was a lot of history behind these circular walls. Photograph courtesy <a href="http://timv.smugmug.com/">Tim Villabona</a>.
Tim asked his grandfather how his family came to rehabilitate this water tower -- and as I expected, there was a lot of history behind these circular walls. Photograph courtesy Tim Villabona.
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The view of the village from the top of the water tower.  Dąbrówno (pronounced 'down-broov-noh') is a small town in northern Poland that still retains much of its medieval structure. Photograph courtesy <a href="http://timv.smugmug.com/">Tim Villabona</a>
The view of the village from the top of the water tower.  Dąbrówno (pronounced 'down-broov-noh') is a small town in northern Poland that still retains much of its medieval structure. Photograph courtesy Tim Villabona.
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According to Tim's grandfather, Mr. Golanka, "In the past, this tower was primarily used as water supply for steamed locomotives that traveled below the escarpment that it sits upon. There were three cast iron pipes running all the way to do the top: inle
According to Tim's grandfather, Mr. Golanka, "In the past, this tower was primarily used as water supply for steamed locomotives that traveled below the escarpment that it sits upon. There were three cast iron pipes running all the way to do the top: inlet (using city water from wells), outlet, and overflow. We think it's at least 103 years old, and it was probably used up until World War II." Photograph courtesy Tim Villabona.
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Stan and Ela Golanka, who spotted the water tower while staying at a (less desirable) hunting lodge on vacation, yearned for a little place of their own to fix up.  "After we saw it, we did a little research, and eventually got a hold of it in March 2001.
Stan and Ela Golanka, who spotted the water tower while staying at a (less desirable) hunting lodge on vacation, yearned for a little place of their own to fix up.  "After we saw it, we did a little research, and eventually got a hold of it in March 2001. It was owned by the county, and had been completely neglected by its previous owner, so we bought it for 26,000 zlotych -- about 8,000 US dollars." Here, they are pictured with their daughters Aleksandra and Julia. Photograph courtesy Tim Villabona
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"The structure itself, the external walls, were made of thick stone, brick, and some stucco. It was all very solid. The water tank sits upon about 100 cast-iron bricks -- and what's interesting is that they don't follow the profile of the tank. The exteri
"The structure itself, the external walls, were made of thick stone, brick, and some stucco. It was all very solid. The water tank sits upon about 100 cast-iron bricks -- and what's interesting is that they don't follow the profile of the tank. The exterior looks convex but the interior is concave, which, with a full load of water, would keep the force on the walls inward, preventing it from exploding outwards." Photograph courtesy Tim Villabona.
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"After the interior renovation, we created a kitchen, a fireplace (originally designed to keep the whole building warm, but it heats the top floor best of all), a semi-balcony overlooking this sitting area, an entry foyer, a bathroom, and a small bedroom.
"After the interior renovation, we created a kitchen, a fireplace (originally designed to keep the whole building warm, but it heats the top floor best of all), a semi-balcony overlooking this sitting area, an entry foyer, a bathroom, and a small bedroom.  There are 63 steps total -- with a first floor, second floor, and then the water tank on top." Photograph courtesy Tim Villabona.
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Stan Golanka against the backdrop of Dąbrówno. (Trivia: 'Golonka' is a polish cut of meat; it was misspelled when immigrating.)
Stan Golanka against the backdrop of Dąbrówno. (Trivia: 'Golonka' is a polish cut of meat; it was misspelled when immigrating.)
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"When you say 'water tower' to my friends in the States, they think of some big tank sitting on metal framework with a ball on top -- but this one boasts a little more elegance." Photograph courtesy <a href="http://timv.smugmug.com/">Tim Villabona</a>.
"When you say 'water tower' to my friends in the States, they think of some big tank sitting on metal framework with a ball on top -- but this one boasts a little more elegance." Photograph courtesy Tim Villabona.
8 / 9
"We spend nearly all of our summers here. I like this little town, with a population of 900. Our water tower home might be down-to-earth and a little crude, but sometimes you just don't want all the frills..." Photograph courtesy <a href="http://timv.smug
"We spend nearly all of our summers here. I like this little town, with a population of 900. Our water tower home might be down-to-earth and a little crude, but sometimes you just don't want all the frills..." Photograph courtesy Tim Villabona.
9 / 9
Tim asked his grandfather how his family came to rehabilitate this water tower -- and as I expected, there was a lot of history behind these circular walls. Photograph courtesy <a href="http://timv.smugmug.com/">Tim Villabona</a>.
Tim asked his grandfather how his family came to rehabilitate this water tower -- and as I expected, there was a lot of history behind these circular walls. Photograph courtesy Tim Villabona.

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