Camouflaged Wade Avenue Pump Station Takes Internet by Storm

So what’s behind the walls of the house with fake windows and no driveway? The answer is anything but creepy.

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Perhaps it’s the somewhat-creepy narration. Or maybe it’s the “door to nowhere” that “no key will fit in.” But whatever the case, reporter Eric Mennel from WUNC, North Carolina Public Radio manages to set the most intriguing stage ever for a story about a mysterious house at 3215 Wade Avenue in Raleigh, N.C.

So much so, the video has gone viral, accumulating more than 700,000 views in one week.

So what’s behind the walls of the house with fake windows and no driveway? This house with a door no one answers? The answer is anything but creepy: It’s a booster pump station designed to blend in with its residential neighbors.


Camouflaged infrastructure is not uncommon, but perhaps it does such an effective job the public is oblivious to its existence. This video does a remarkable job of grabbing the public’s attention and then pulling back the curtains to show that infrastructure is right beneath their feet and right next door to their homes.

The station, which includes three pumps — 9, 15 and 25 mgd — was built in the late 70s. After meeting with a local church congregation, which was concerned noise from the pump would disrupt services, the city decided to disguise it as a house and add sound dampening materials, like cinder block, in the construction — mainly as a courtesy to the community and congregation.

So convincing is the façade that Perry Allen, the city’s construction projects administrator who was interviewed in the video, says city employees often find advertising brochures on the front door of the station.

“I drove down Wade Avenue for 25 years, knowing there was a pump station there, but never actually picked it out until I worked for the city and worked on pump stations,” Allen says.

Of the roughly 20 pump stations in the city, the Wade Avenue station is the only one camouflaged.

“Most pump stations in town are just little rectangular buildings,” Allen says. “Typically they have a couple of windows, but nothing fancy, and they’re away from residential areas.”

Another bonus? Zero vandalism.

“To my knowledge, we have not had any vandalism around this pump station, and it might have something to do with the traffic on the road or the location,” says Allen in the video.

In Tampa, Fla., a stormwater pump station was recently built in the same manner, disguised as a house so it would fit in with other homes in the area. That station even includes a chimney, fence, landscaping in front, and a front and back porch. In a neighborhood where property values can hit $850,000, the aesthetics of the pump station might also preserve property values.

So although the Wade Avenue station might not be entirely unique, it sure has the Web buzzing.

“It took me totally by surprise,” Allen says. “It took all of us by surprise.”

And now, one of Raleigh’s secrets isn’t quite so secret. But perhaps that’s a win for infrastructure.

Does your municipality have a camouflaged pump station? Why should cities consider taking this approach?


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