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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Whitley Bay Art Deco

Location: Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, England

A cast-iron drinking fountain was erected on 12th May 1937 on the Northern Promenade to commemorate the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

https://www.fototime.com/ftweb/bin/ft.dll/usersearchmatches?userid=58E08A8BADBC42C8A4E097D0D715519A&seq=1&st=1&match=whitley%20bay

It was designated a Grade II historic building on 05 December 2012 as a rare example of a historic form of Art Deco street furniture. Layers of paint over the decades affected the detail in the decorative patterns and features of the structure, and in 2017 the fountain was restored as part of North Tyneside Council’s coastal regeneration scheme. Specialists from Tynemouth Decorators cleaned the fountain and repainted in its original colours of blue and dark green.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/draco2008/3519017101
https://co-curate.ncl.ac.uk/resources/view/109888/

A heritage document states that little is known about the design of the drinking fountain but its Art Deco features are “significant of its time with very few other local historical assets showing a similar level of detailing”. It is considered to be a “key part of the heritage of Whitley Bay”.

The fountain is set within a large stone-flagged recess on the west side of North Promenade. It takes the form of a hexagonal cast-iron pillar with a tiered top. A small plaque is located beneath one of three basins. This Fountain Was/ Erected To Commemorate/ The Coronation Of/ T. M. King George/ And Queen Elizabeth/ May 12th 1937

https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/5932108

Two basins are attached to the base for animals. The fountain is decorated with a variety of Art deco motifs including chevrons on the front panel, fluted grooves on the sides and fret relief with wave design. The fountain is attached to a length of brick walling. The manufacturer is unknown.

Glossary:

  • Fret, running or repeated ornament
  • Relief, a sculptural technique to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background

Peter C. Woods Drinking Fountain

Location: San Marcos, Texas, USA

On the eastside entrance to the Hays County Courthouse is a drinking fountain erected by the Lone Star Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1907 to memorialize Peter Cavanaugh Woods, a hero of the 32nd Texas Calvary and a San Marcos physician. Woods was active in the government and part of the Constitutional Convention that took place in Austin. A historical marker located in the San Marcos Cemetery displays a brief synopsis of his life.

The fountain was restored by Heritage Guild on 16 February 1978. The old plastic globe on top of the Wood’s Fountain was replaced with a period appropriate glass globe in 2013.

The 15-foot-high cast iron drinking fountain is an octagonal design with two small basins at ground level to allow dogs to drink. Eight inlaid panels offer space for dedication plaques. Water was delivered from the mouths of lion mascarons into two demi–lune basins, and a tin drinking cup was suspended on a chain.

The cornice is decorated with acanthus relief, and an egg and dart carving sits beneath the capital which supports a Corinthian column terminating with a globe lantern.

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.
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Column Corinthian, a fluted shaft with flowers and leaves at the capital.
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Egg and dart, a carving of alternating oval shapes and  dart or arrow shapes
  • Fluted Shaft, a long rounded groove decorating the shaft of a column
  • Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal

Center Square Drinking Fountain

Location: Lancaster, PA, USA

In 1899 an ice water drinking fountain donated by the Christian Endeavor Union was erected in front of City Hall in Center Square. It was formally dedicated on 20th August during a ceremony attended by Mayor Simon Shissler and other dignitaries.

Although the manufacturer is unknown it closely resembles a design with Roman vase offered by J.W. Fiske & Company of New York City.

The following year the fountain was replaced with a Maignen filter fountain which had been offered to the city on a trial basis by the Maignen Company which claimed unprecedented success as a germ proof water filter. Although a recommendation was made in 1902 to remove the filter it remained in situ until 4th September 1905 when the original drinking fountain was re-installed.

A modification was made in 1913 to fit the fountain with two bubblers donated to the city by the Master Plumbers Association. This new innovation shot a jet of water into the air like a miniature geyser producing a flow of bubbling water and therefore aptly named a bubbler. The fountain was removed for repair in 1916 when the bubblers were damaged by children.

The bubbler fountain was referenced by the Lancaster Illustrator in a small article in 1919. However, two postcards from the 1920s show two different fountain styles; one appears to have a small basin located on the street side, and the other is a wide pedestal approximately 4 feet high. I have been unable to find any information or images giving a clearer view.


Mecham Fountain

Location: Petaluma, CA, USA

A 19th century local philanthropist, Harrison Mecham of Stony Point, donated a cast iron drinking fountain to Petaluma in 1891. It was installed at the southwest corner of Main and Washington Streets on the 6th of May. Standing 15 feet 3 inches high and surmounted by a semi-nude statue of the Greek mythological cupbearer, Hebe, it became a controversial work of art.

The statue was destroyed following a mysterious explosion and subsequent fire in the Derby building on Main and Washington streets in 22 February 1893. (The fire which started in the rear of the Washington Hotel was fanned by wind and quickly destroyed a block of buildings in the downtown.) Although the blast blew the head off the statue it remained in situ until 11 Apr 1893 when it was subsequently replaced.

In August 1913 the Women’s Christian Temperance Union complained about the display of nude paintings in a shop window. When the Chief of Police ordered them removed, the shop owner turned all but one to the wall. He then draped “September Morn” by Paul Chabas in a blue gown which triggered a prankster to promptly wrap the statue of Hebe in calico.

The following month on 6 September, the statue fell from the drinking fountain shattering both arms and a leg leaving an ankle and foot attached to the pedestal. The bronze statue was carted off to the corporation yards, and an analysis into the cause of the accident uncovered that one of the internal metal supports had broken, and the other could not support the strain (it is quite possible that the prankster who clambered over the statue caused the support to break). The statue was henceforth repaired and reinstalled on 18 Mar 1915.

In 1925 the fountain was moved, with permission by the grandson of the donor and the city council, to the northwest corner of Main & Washington streets in front of the Sonoma County National Bank.

Although there was a plan to move the Mecham fountain with its statue of Hebe to the Hill Plaza on 30 November 1927, it was decided at the last minute that it would replace the old fountain in Walnut Park. It was placed in the centre of the park facing the bandstand. The statue of Hebe was put into storage in Wickersham Park where it remained for many years until it was removed to the city dump circa 1960-61.

The cast iron structure, manufactured by J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York, was seated on an octagonal stone plinth. The base supported eight panels, three of which offered demi lune basins decorated with laurel leaves into which dolphin mascarons spouted water. A small stone step was positioned beneath the basin to assist children or smaller adults.

An attic base supported a short square central column with four inset panels bound by pilasters. Each panel offered bas-relief containing an orb encircled by flourish. A dedication plaque was placed on the south side in raised letters: Gift of H. Mecham to the City of Petaluma.

The capital supported a 5’ 3” high statue of Hebe, the Cup bearer to the Gods in Greek mythology. She poured water from a pitcher raised high in her right hand into a goblet in her left hand. This particular model, cast in bronze from a design by the sculptor Antonio Canova, was naked above the waist.

Glossary

  • Attic base, a column base with two rings
  • Bas relief
  • capital
  • Demi lune
  • mascaron
  • 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