Restoration of park windmill within reach

A San Francisco landmark may soon get a long needed face-lift.

The Murphy Windmill in Golden Gate Park, located near the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. and Lincoln Way, has been slowly deteriorating because of the rough ocean air and years of neglect.

Last week, however, a Recreation and Park subcommittee approved a $1.8 million construction contract that would restore the building to its previous glory. The project would rebuild the tower of the 100-year-old windmill, the world’s largest, which is named after the banker who donated $20,000 to San Francisco to build it.

For six years, The City, along with the help of a citizens group called the Campaign to Save the Golden Gate Windmills, has been raising money to rebuild the Murphy Windmill in three phases.

The first phase dismantled the windmill’s three-story wooden tower and shipped its original machinery, gears, brake wheel and fan tails to a Dutch windmill company famed for restoring the relics.

The second phase, which was approved last week, would rebuild the tower and bring the 50-foot blades back from the Netherlands, which would be rebuilt in working condition in the third phase of the project.

“We’re ready to fly over there and bring it back ourselves,” Yomi Agunbiade, the general manager of the Recreation and Parks Department, said about the building’s old sails.

The plan is to get the windmill working like it used to before it became outdated with the advent of electrical pumps.

The City hopes to use the restored windmill for educational tours.

The majority of the $1.8 million needed for the project has come from a long list of donors and sources, according to the Recreation and Parks Department.

And before the reconstruction can begin as scheduled in September, another $178,000 has to be secured by Aug. 17.

Phase two of the reconstruction project is scheduled to take about a year to complete.

Today, the windmill, which was the second windmill built in Golden Gate Park in 1906 to help irrigate the areas sand dunes and transform it into park land, is a stump of its old self.

It sits just 300 yards from Ocean Beach with boarded-up windows and a chain-link fence protecting its decaying shell from vandalism.

In its glory days, the Murphy Windmill had the ability to pump more 40,000 gallons of water a day.

sfarooq@examiner.com

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