The Dutch Windmill was built in 1902 to capture westerly winds coming from the Pacific Ocean and use their energy to power Golden Gate Park's irrigation system. The windmill was so useful that in 1905 it inspired the construction of the Murphy Windmill in the park's southwest corner. As motorized pumps were introduced in the early 20th century the use of structures such as the Dutch Windmill began to decline. After years of failing to be cared for properly, the Dutch Windmill was almost unable to continue functioning. After campaign for it's restoration was successful, the Windmill was restored in 1980, and today it sits in the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden in Golden Gate Park.
In 1901 San Franciscans
John McLauren, Adolph B. Spreckles and Reuben Lloyd went to the Recreation and
Park Commission and persuaded them to construct a windmill that would pump
water for Golden Gate Park's irrigation system. The structure was designed
by a well-known San Francisco resident, Alpheus Bull, Jr. In 1902 the Dutch
Windmill was built in the northwest corner of the park, 300 yards away from the
ocean in order to utilize westerly winds as a power source. A cottage was
constructed near the structure to house the windmill’s caretaker. This person
was responsible for the windmill’s maintenance and for making sure that the
animals who often resided in the park were fed.
The Dutch Windmill was so
useful that in 1905 the Mayor of San Francisco, Eugene Schmitz, pushed for
another windmill to be erected in Golden Gate Park. The construction of the
second windmill was made possible by a $20,000 donation from the vice president
of Hibernia Bank, Samuel Murphy. Thus, the Murphy Windmill (or South Windmill)
was built and in operation that same year. Murphy Windmill was known as the
largest of it’s kind in the world.
In 1913 both windmills
were installed with motorized pumps and no longer required wind to function.
However, as their usefulness declined so did their upkeep. Overtime, operation
of the windmills halted and they became part of the Park’s landscape. After
decades passed, a campaign to restore the Dutch Windmill (or North Windmill)
commenced and was spearheaded by Eleanor Rossi Crabtree in 1964. Crabtree’s
mission was realized in 1980 and the windmill received renovations that were
long overdue. That same year the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden was created
surrounding the Dutch Windmill.
Similar plans began in
1993 for the Murphy Windmill. The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department
and San Francisco Beautiful teamed up to evaluate what their course of action
to repair the windmill would be. It was decided that renovations would need to
be made as soon as funds were available. They were able to convince the city of
San Francisco to donate $500,000 towards the windmill’s restoration.
Today, both windmills have
seen continued decay after their initial restorations. Plans for more
renovations are in place and involve rebuilding a windmill tower, pump
mechanisms, sails, and more. Never the less, the Dutch Windmill, along with its
counterpart, continue to showcase over a century of history and are beautiful
additions to the historic Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.