The buildings were built in 1887 to provide a steady water supply to Paxton. Prior to their construction, Paxton had considerable difficulty with its water supply; a fire which destroyed much of the city's downtown in 1870 had been exacerbated by the fire department's low water supply, and an artesian well project started in 1872 was unsuccessful. The new water tower and pump house were the first in a series of infrastructure improvements which spurred the economic development of Paxton. The two buildings were built with brick. The octagonal water tower is 80 feet (24 m) tall.