Roadside Architecture at its Best!
The world's largest catsup bottle in Collinsville, Ill. has been restored to its original 1949 appearance.
A parade and lighting ceremony on June 3, 1995 was the climax of a two year effort. The restoration drive brought together the best of the fabric of America- community spirit, volunteerism, generosity, hard work and blind faith. Paris may have the Eiffel Tower, St. Louis may have The Arch, but Collinsville has The Catsup Bottle.
Judy DeMoisy led a committee of 14 that gave their lives over to the catsup bottle. They sold nearly 6,000 shirts and promoted donations not only locally, but from across the country. Over $70,000 was raised to repair, sandblast and paint the 170 ft. tall bottle-shaped water tower. More funds have been raised to improve the lighting and provide for maintenance.
Left: Brook and Beth DeMoisy drumming
up interest at a fund raiser under the giant bottle.(click for larger image)
The bottle was in jeopardy since the original owner, Brooks Foods, offered it's shuttered catsup plant for sale. The facility was opened in 1907. The new owners, a military supply company, did not need a water tower for their business. Since it had not been painted for over 20 years, the bottle was peeling and rusting. Both the new and old owners were major donors to the restoration campaign.
It seems nearly everyone in Collinsville has a connection to catsup. Many worked at the plant when it was open or are related to a former employee. Judy DeMoisy is one of those few without a connection. Her Air Force husband is stationed at nearby Scott AFB. The DeMoisy family was transferred there only a relatively short time before the catsup bottle drive began. Timing is often everything. Judy had the preservation training and the heart to take on this "monumental" job.
Collinsville and the Catsup Bottle were featured in the October, 1995 issue of Midwest Living magazine as one of 16 winners of the magazine's Hometown Pride Awards Program.
The St. Louis Antique Bottle Collectors Association helped promote the restoration. They were instrumental in finding an original 1949 Brooks Tangy Catsup bottle with label and contents intact to use as a guide for the restoration of the water tower. Ralph Finch, an antique bottle collector from Southfield, Michigan, cooperated by loaning several bottles from his collection.
Judy DeMoisy is now the manager of Downtown Collinsville, 216 East Main Street, Collinsville, IL 62234. She may be contacted by phone at: 618-345-5598.
The giant bottle is located on Illinois 159 (800 S. Morrison), midway between
I-64 and I-55,70.
here for an interactive map from Mapblast. A visit is worth the trip
as a great example of Americana and community pride.
The Collinsville catsup bottle water tower before the restoration.
(click for a larger image)
By Jim Potts, edited from his articles originally published in the Mound City Empties.
Copyright © 1996
More great Catsup Bottle nostalgia!
This page featured on
Water Towers of the
See the late Dole Pineapple water tower, also made by Caldwell Tanks
This page featured on 7 Wonders of the World Wide Web!
Designated as the "Humor and the Unusual" Site of the Week on Nov. 25, 1996
For more roadside links - - Primarily Petroliana
For more local information -
or City of Collinsville
For more St. Louis region info and links
Potts' St. Louis Home Page
Online 11/20/96, Jim Potts