Thank you for visiting my blog.  As of 2019 the database is approaching 400 posts identifying cast iron drinking fountains located around the world. To search for a specific item use the Search Box by entering a relevant detail e.g. city, memorial name, etc. The blog can also be searched using the Category Box which offers a search by country, foundry, historic registers, etc.

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‘Old Ish’ Drinking Fountain

Location: Ishpeming, Michigan, USA

On the corner of Main Street and Cleveland Avenue stands a structure which is more famous for the statue of an Indian than for its original purpose as a drinking fountain for humans and horses. Fund raising efforts by the Vice President of a local mining company (the area is rich in iron ore) successfully erected the drinking fountain in 1884.

Manufactured by J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York the structure was originally seated on an octagonal stone plinth. It consists of a single pedestal with canted corners surmounted by a bronze statue of an Indian Chief.

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Used with permission. Source: http://viewsofthepast.com/

The fountain supplied water to horses and humans via dolphin mascarons (symbolic of guardians of water) located within eight arched cornices. Two of the mascarons spouted water into small basins for human consumption which were supported by scroll consoles. Drinking cups were suspended by chains. Horses drank from a large circular fluted trough from which overflow water fed four small basins on each corner for the refreshment of smaller animals.

A plaque mounted on the base of the structure by the Marquette County Historical Society reads: “Old ‘Ish / Erected In 1884 Through The Efforts / Of C.H. Hall Of The Lake Superior / Mining Company – Ishpeming. Made By / The J.L. Mott Company – New York. / Originally It Was Painted Black / And Had Three Drinking Fountains / For Humans, Horses & Dogs.”

Above the arches an attic base supports a short column containing four inset panels with bas-relief bound by pilasters. The capital provides the foundation for the bronze statue known as Old Ish. The sculpture was modelled from an original wood carving created by Samuel Anderson Robb who was the leading cigar store Indian peddler. It was carved for William Demuth & Co. who cast it in zinc and advertised it in his catalog as “No. 53 Indian Chief.” In 1873, the J.L. Mott Iron Works purchased the design and listed it in their catalog of statuary.

In his right hand the Indian Chief originally held an arrow, and in his left hand he holds a bow attached to a base near his left foot which rests on a rock. This stance is called contrapposto, where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed. A tree stump behind his right leg balances the sculpture. He is dressed in a headband containing three feathers, a bear claw necklace, a cloak, a breechcloth (fabric tucked into a belt that covered the front and back), fringed leggings and moccasins. A maker’s plate is situated on the base of the statue indicating J.L. Mott Iron Works, N.Y.

Several original features of the fountain and statue are missing. The dolphin masks no longer exist, the horse trough has been removed, and the arrow is missing from the Indian’s right hand. The direction of the statue has also changed. It is unclear whether this occurred during a documented prank or if it was incorrectly re-installed when the statue was removed in 1985 to allow cracks in the cast iron base to be repaired. Originally the horse trough was on the left of the statue and the two small basins were in front and behind the statue as seen in the last image.

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Circa 1950s. Dolphin masks, horse trough and arrow are missing

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Image used with permission, Norm Powell. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/napowell/29639532323/

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The arrow is visible in right hand. Image used with permission. Source: http://viewsofthepast.com/

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The arrow missing from right hand. Source: http://www.roadarch.com/giants/indians2.html

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This image shows the original orientation and features that are now missing. Image used with permission. Source: http://viewsofthepast.com/

During my research I discovered a blog that delves into the history and haunting of Ishpeming related to an Indian burial ground. Review it here

Glossary

  • Attic base, a column base with two rings
  • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Contrapposto, stance where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed
  • Fluted, a long rounded groove
  • Mask/Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Pilaster, a column form that is only ornamental and not supporting a structure
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.

Vedovelle Fountains

Location: Milan, Italy

In the municipality of Milan there are over 400 small drinking fountains originally installed in public gathering places such as flower and vegetable markets, public parks, churches and cemeteries. The cast iron fountains were cast by Fonderia Lamperti at the end of the 19th century from a design by Sir Richard Wallace, a wealthy English art collector and philanthropist who lived in France.

Known as the Small Model the fountain painted dark green is approximately 4ft tall with a single column decorated with acanthus bas-relief. The capital supports a decorative finial. A red cross on a white field, Milan’s coat of arms, is situated just beneath the water spout which is in the form of a dragon. A constant stream of water pours from the mouth of the brass dragon into a basin at ground level. For the amusement of children, putting your finger in the dragon’s mouth forces the water to spout from a small hole in the head.

The constant flow of water prevents the formation of bacteria. Run off water is channelled to the municipal water purifier and used in the cultivated fields surrounding the city. The fountains are maintained by Metropolitana Milanese to ensure the quality of the water. This company created a map identifying the location of all 418 small fountains with the hope that it would encourage their use and reduce the use of plastic water bottles. The map can also be viewed online at www.fontanelle.org

These drinking fountains are known as Vedovelle (Little Widows) in reference to the constant stream of water which resembles the tears of grieving widows. They are also referred to as Drago Verde (Green Dragons) due to the colour of the pedestal and the little dragon head water spouts.

As part of the Artline Milano public art project which created a permanent art exhibition within a public park, artist Serena Vestrucci combined modern art with tradition by creating unique brass spouts on ten historic fountains.

Glossary

  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration. It is symbolic of a difficult problem that has been solved.
  • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure

 


Davis Memorial Fountain

Location: McMinnville, TN, USA

On a daily basis many people walk past the Hebe statue, located in McMinnville Public Square at the south side of Warren County Courthouse, perhaps unaware that this structure was originally a drinking fountain.

The cast iron drinking fountain was donated to the city of McMinnville by Laura Davis Worley and her sister, Florence Davis, as a memorial to their parents, Captain O.W. Davis and his wife Elizabeth. A committee formed by Laura Worley with city officials unanimously selected a three level fountain to accommodate horses, small animals and people. It was installed at the east end of the park at Court Square in 1914 and dedicated on Thursday May 20, 1915.

In 1999 members of Heritage Alliance, Main Street McMinnville and the Leadership McMinnville Class of 1999 began raising funds to save the structure from further deterioration. It was removed during the renovation of Main Street in 2005, and restoration of the fountain was undertaken by local man James McGaw, a mechanical engineer and metallurgist who painstakingly restored it by hand over a 2½ year period. In 2015, the centennial of the dedication was recognized by placing a wreath at the fountain.

A square base seated on an octagonal plinth, this structure originally contained four small basins at each corner for the use of dogs. At the front of the fountain is a dedication plaque located between two cornices, Under The Auspices Of / The Woman’s Civic League / 1914. Above is a fluted basin for human consumption, and in the rear is a large fluted horse trough. Three cusped arch side panels contain the head of a Naiad. (In Greek mythology, a Naiad was a female water nymph who guarded fountains, wells, and other bodies of fresh water.) The fourth panel in the rear is engraved; Owen Watkins Davis / Elizabeth Savage Davis / By their daughters / Laura Davis Worley / and / Florence Davis.

The capital edged with rope detail and acanthus frieze supports a short pedestal decorated with bas relief in the form of reeds and a crest. Two globe lanterns are supported by elaborate consoles. A classical statue of the Greek Goddess Hebe stands on an abacus. This standing female figure is based on the 1806 sculpture by Berthel Thorvaldsen. (The daughter of Zeus and Hera, Hebe is the Greek goddess of Youth and Spring, and proffers the cup of immortality at the table of the gods.)

Dressed in flowing robes gathered at the waist, her head is tilted down and to the left, and her hair is held by a headband or ribbon. Her left leg is bent and her weight is on her right leg. (This stance is called contrapposto, where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed.) She holds a pitcher with a lowered right hand beside her thigh and a cup in her raised left hand with her gaze focusing on it. A plate on the base of the statue identifies the manufacturer, J. W. Fiske.

Glossary:

  • Abacus, at the top of a capital, a thick rectangular slab of stone that serves as the flat, broad surface
  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Cornice, a molding or ornamentation that projects from the top of a building
  • Cusped Arch, the point of intersection of two ornamental arcs or curves, such as the inner points of a trefoil
  • Fluted, a long rounded groove
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.

 


Esplanade Fountains

Location: Dunoon, Argyll & Bute, Scotland

On Marine Parade at Hunters Quay and Kirn there are two cast iron drinking fountain canopies. Although the canopy at Kirn has been restored both structures have lost original elements.

The structure at Hunters Quay is situated at James Street near Jim Crow Rock.
Three of four medallions are missing and the fourth contains a dedication shield. Only two of four original griffins remain, and the space beneath the canopy where the font once stood is empty.

The Kirn fountain is located between Kirn Brae and Stewart Street.

Photographs of the original structure show elements that are now missing such as griffins on each corner of the canopy, the finial at the top of the dome, and the font which has been replaced with a planter. A dedication plaque states, The Gift Of / The Directors / Of The Kirn Pier / 1877.

Within an image from 1899 the font beneath the canopy is #7 with a dog trough at ground level. Lion head medallions are visible and the structure terminates in a gas lamp finial.

Kirn_1899 Looking-South

By 1903 the font has been replaced with an enclosed pillar model.

Kirn_1903 Wikipedia (1)

The gas lamp holder no longer exists in 1907 and has been replaced with what appears to be the model of an owl. One of the lion medallions is missing.

Pictorial evidence between the years of 1907 and 1938 identifies that the structure remained to have a pillar font with owl finial atop the dome.

These drinking fountains, customized from design number 8 in Walter Macfarlane & Co.’s catalogue, were manufactured at the Saracen Foundry at Possilpark in Glasgow. The structure is 9 feet 6 inches high and consists of four columns, from the capitals of which consoles with griffin terminals unite with arches formed of decorated mouldings.

Rope moulded cartouches within each lunette host a lion mascaron and a dedication shield. On two of the sides provision was made for receiving an inscription using raised metal letters; whilst on the other two sides was the useful monition, Keep The Pavement Dry. Civic virtues such as temperance were often extolled in inscriptions on drinking fountains. The structure is surmounted by an open filigree dome, the finial was a gas lantern.

Under the canopy stood the font (design number 7) 5 foot 8 inches high. The terminal was a crane. The basin (2 feet 6 inches in diameter) which has a scalloped edge and decorative relief was supported by a single decorative pedestal with four pilasters and four descending salamanders, a symbol of courage and bravery. A central urn with four consoles offered drinking cups suspended by chains. The fountain was operated by pressing a button.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Griffins are symbolic of guardians of priceless possessions, salamanders display bravery and courage that cannot be extinguished by fire, and cranes are recognized as a symbol of vigilance.

Glossary

  • Capital: The top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Cartouche, a structure or figure, often in the shape of an oval shield or oblong scroll, used as an architectural or graphic ornament or to bear a design or inscription
  • Console: a decorative bracket support element
  • Filigree, fine ornamental work
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Griffin, winged lion denotes vigilance and strength, guards treasure and priceless possessions
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Mask/Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Pilaster, a column form that is only ornamental and not supporting a structure
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

Island Cow Tailed Pumps

Location: St. Peter Port, Guernsey

This octagonal shaped ornamental cow-tailed pump at the junction of La Rue du Pre and Park St. in St. Peter Port is design #8 from the catalogue of George Smith & Co. An inscription on the base identifies the Sun Foundry as the manufacturer; George Smith & Co / Sun Foundry / Glasgow.

A small trough set into the base of the structure was for the use of dogs. The single pillar with attic base hosts inset arched panels for dedication. Entablature with bolt consoles sits beneath an ogee cupola with alternate panels of fleur de lys motif. The pump handle and six sided glass pane lantern are missing; however, yoke maintenance arms that originally supported the lamp-lighter’s ladder are still in evidence. The lantern was capped with a ball and spike finial.

As part of improvements to the town of St. Peter Port in February 1876, a triangular space named Trinity Square was created with trees, iron seats, and a double-sided pump also believed to be manufactured by the Sun Foundry.

A hexagonal pedestal with attic base and inset arch panels contains a tap with bucket hook, a cow tail handle, and a lion head mascaron from which water spouted. Above the lion spout is an inscribed plaque; St. Peter Port / 1876 / J.A. Carey / F.H. Shortt / Constables. (Constables in the islands of Jersey and Guernsey are elected heads of the Parishes who enforce the decisions of the Parish.) Cursive scroll consoles support yoke maintenance arms which assisted the lamplighter to reach a gas lantern no longer in evidence.

Glossary

  • Attic base, a column base with two rings
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Cupola, a small, domed structure on top of a roof.
  • Entablature, moldings and bands which lie horizontally above columns
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
  • Ogee, curve with a concave
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Yoke maintenance arms, the bars near the top of a street light which supported the lamplighter’s ladder

 


Two Very Different Fountains

Location: Campbelltown, Argyll & Bute, Scotland

A combination drinking fountain/lamp which is located in Kinloch Green (public park), was at one time accompanied by a small pillar style drinking fountain nearby, visible in the bottom right corner of the first image.

Manufactured at the Sun Foundry in Glasgow, design #27 was described in the catalogue of George Smith & Co. as a drinking fountain and lamp combined. This octagonal shaped drinking fountain was a single pedestal with attic base that hosted a small trough at ground level for the use of dogs. Inset arched panels offered space for dedications. Two demi-lune basins were offered with drinking cups suspended by chains. Entablature with bolt consoles sat beneath an ogee cupola with panels of fleur de lys motif. The finial was a six sided glass pane lantern.

A much smaller drinking fountain was situated in front of the Cross outside the town hall on Main Street. The outcome of the fountain is unknown; however, it was most likely eliminated at the same time as the Cross was removed for safety during WWII. The cross was reinstalled after the war in its current position at the junction of Hall Street and Old Quay Street.

This decorative pillar style fountain, design #8 in the catalogue of Geo. Smith & Co., was manufactured by the Sun Foundry. It had a circular base with a trough for dogs, a short bulbous pedestal with acanthus bas-relief and lion mascarons on four sides. Water which spouted from a lion mascaron into a demi-lune basin designed for human use was retrieved using a metal cup suspended on a chain. Overflow water in the basin was directed to the trough at street level. The structure was capped with a finial.

 Glossary:

  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Attic base, a column base with two rings
  • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Cupola, a small, domed structure on top of a roof.
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Entablature, moldings and bands which lie horizontally above columns
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
  • Ogee, curve with a concave
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue

 


Jubilee Lamp Fountain

Location: Ringwood, Hampshire, England

A cast iron drinking fountain situated in Market Place was constructed in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.

It was refurbished in 1977, recorded as a Grade II historic building on 12 March 1987 and restored and repainted by JW Lighting Specialists (UK) Limited in 2013.

The design was registered by George Smith & Co. and manufactured by the Sun Foundry. It is seated on a two tiered octagonal plinth. A compass cross base with canted corners supports a central pedestal and four columns decorated with diamond frieze and nail head molding.

The font (design #13) is a large basin with dog tooth relief on the rim, partitioned by four foliate consoles from which cups were suspended on chains. Shell motif spouts on each side released water flow.

The highly decorated lamp pillar #13a is further enhanced with a crown and dedication plaque; Erected / By Public / Subscription / To / Commemorate / The Jubilee / Of The Reign Of / Her Majesty / Queen Victoria / 1887. Four consoles support additional lanterns lit by gas; the pillar is terminated with a central lantern.

Glossary:

  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • Compass cross, a cross of equal vertical and horizontal lengths, concentric with and overlaying a circle.
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Dog tooth relief, pyramid shaped carving
  • Foliate, decorated with leaves or leaf like motif
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Nail head molding, a series of low four-sided pyramids
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.