Rebecca at the Well Fountain

Location: Block Island, Rhode Island

Following a convention in 1874, local chapters of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union were encouraged to erect drinking fountains as an alternative to men quenching their thirst in saloons. The W.C.T.U. chapter on Block Island chose a drinking fountain surmounted by a statue of Rebecca at the Well from the J. W. Fiske Iron Works catalog. It was erected in 1896 at the intersection of Water Street, Ocean Avenue, Pilot Hill Road and Spring Street.

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A square base seated on an octagonal plinth, this structure contains four small basins at each corner for the use of dogs. A dedication plaque is located between two cornices, Erected By The W.C.T.U. / Of / Block Island, Rhode Island / July 22, 1896.

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Four side panels are decorated with cusped arches. Horse troughs with floral design are offered on two panels, a fluted basin for human consumption, and the fourth panel contains a decorative design with shield and mascaron. The capital, edged with rope detail and acanthus frieze, states For God And Home And Every Land.

A classical statue of Rebecca at the Well with a grape garland in her hair is situated on an abacus. She cradles an urn tipped at an angle.

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The statue has been mistakenly identified as Hebe, possibly because the W.C.T.U. used Hebe on many of their drinking fountains as she was associated with diluting wine with water. However, the statue of Hebe carries a pitcher in one hand and holds a cup in the other. The statue on Block Island is most definitely Rebecca at the Well.

Deterioration of the structure from weather, and damage as the result of motor vehicles, left the fountain in need of restoration. Having received confirmation of a federal grant to replace the Rebecca statue she was removed from the drinking fountain in April 2001 and transported to Conservation Technology Corp. in Newport. Although restoration was planned, after inspection it was decided that the zinc and iron statue, which had deteriorated due to weather erosion, would not have the structural integrity required to withstand continued exposure to the outside elements.

The statue was stripped and a plaster mold made to create a replica casting in aluminium alloy. In December 2001, the replica was set on its newly restored base at the traffic circle where High, Spring and Water streets intersect. Whereas the original statue of Rebecca faced Water Street at the ferry entrance, the ‘new’ statue was erected facing the opposite direction. It was formally dedicated with a ribbon cutting ceremony on 7 June 2002.

The original statue which had been repaired and restored remained in a workshop for many years until funding from the Champlin Foundation allowed work to proceed on the West Gallery of the Block Island Historical Society. Rebecca at the Well moved to her new home at the West Gallery in 2014.

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
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • 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
  • Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.

 

Cleethorpes Jubilee Fountain

Location: , England

An elaborate drinking fountain was presented to the town by the Grant family to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Originally located on the seafront at the intersection of the Kingsway and Market Street, it was relocated to the Brighton Street slipway in the Cleethorpes, Lincolnshirelate 1930s or early 1940s. The associated original elaborate drinking font was not re-sited, and was replaced by a single circular pedestal with fluted pillar.

In 1949, the structure was irrevocably damaged when hit by a car. It was demolished and removed. Some of the plaques were salvaged and are on display in Cleethorpes Town Hall. In 2013 the replacement pillar font was being offered for sale by Junktion Antiques.

Casting number 20 (18 feet high) is from Walter MacFarlane’s catalog manufactured by the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland and was seated on an octagonal tiered plinth. The drinking fountain canopy is supported by eight columns with exterior griffin terminals.

The highly decorated fret detail arches are trimmed with rope mouldings. Cartouches contained within each lunette offer shields for memorial: a swan, a crane, and a dedication shield. On each side arch faceplates provided a flat surface for an inscription using raised metal letters; often the useful monition, Keep the pavement dry. Civic virtues such as temperance were often extolled in inscriptions on drinking fountains.

The ribbed dome is open filigree with a crown finial and a lamp at the apex. Doves and flowers offer decorative relief, and the internal capitals are statues of owls/lion masks.

Under the canopy stood the original font (casting number 18.) The wide base was in the form of a Greek cross with canted corners, on which was set a circular shaft, ornamented with water lilies. Four lion jambs supported four highly decorated quatrefoil basins. Rising from the centre was a stanchion decorated with swan and bird decoration. A kylix-shaped vase terminal with four consoles offered drinking cups suspended by chains.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Griffins are symbolic of guardians of priceless possessions; lions are symbolic of guardianship; owls are symbolic of guardians of the afterlife, cranes are recognized as a symbol of vigilance, and eagles represent immortality.

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Glossary:

  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • 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
  • Fluted Shaft, a long rounded groove decorating the shaft of a column
  • Fret, running or repeated ornament
  • Griffin, winged lion denotes vigilance and strength, guards treasure and priceless possessions
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
  • Kylix, a Grecian style drinking cup
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests
  • Quatrefoil, a type of decorative framework consisting of a symmetrical shape which forms the overall outline of four partially-overlapping circles of the same diameter
  • Stanchion, upright bar or post providing support
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

D.A.R. Fountain

Location: Alexandria, VA, USA

In 1909 a proposal to erect a fountain in front of the market was introduced to the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution with the intention of supplying fresh drinking water to horses pulling carts and farmers bringing produce to market. The selected design (by Philadelphia jeweler J. E. Caldwell & Co.) incorporated one of four historical cannons that had been discovered along the Strand in 1908 during improvements to the river front.

The cannon was shipped to Philadelphia, and during construction a solid shot was discovered inside with the likelihood of gunpowder being present. This delayed construction and installation of the fountain which had been planned for April as evidenced on the dedication plaque. In fact the 7 foot 6 inch high bronze-and-iron fountain was not erected until May 6, 1912 where, at the brick intersection of Royal and Cameron streets festooned with flags and bunting, it was dedicated and welcomed with trumpeting and applause.

Three years later complaints were received that the fountain ran continuously wasting thousands of gallons of water; it had also become a place for neighbourhood youths to loiter and bang on the rim of the bowl; and the water basin was being used as a wash basin, bath tub and laundry. A petition was circulated complaining that it was a nuisance and a danger following a 1916 accident when an automobile collided with the fountain. At this point in history the bronze dolphin finial disappeared.

In 1918 an army truck hit the fountain knocking it off its pedestal and catapulting it 40 feet without additional damage to the structure. It was therefore reconnected and remained in situ until October 1919 when it was shipped to Philadelphia for repairs. Upon return it was relocated to the southwest corner of Fairfax and Cameron streets.
The fountain was totally dismantled and rebuilt in 1963. A dedication ceremony was held on June 2, 1967 when as part of the urban renewal project, it was relocated to its present location at North Royal Street.

Not a casting from an established iron foundry, this fountain is unique. The circular base with a channel has two small basins for dogs. A central base supports 4 circular pedestals with attic base and a center column created from the old cannon. A deep circular trough, 4 feet in diameter, with a lip offered water for horses. 2 demilune basins protrude from the side of the cannon. The dipper cups for drinking are missing.

2 dolphin consoles support a basin decorated with scrolls. On the west side is a dedication engraved in a shield format of scrolls and shell: Erected April 1, 1912 / By The / Mount Vernon Chapter D.A.R. / In Memory Of / The Colonial And Revolutionary / Events Of The Town Of / Alexandria Virginia. On the east side is the insignia of the D.A.R. The finial was a dolphin which spouted water into the basin and from the dolphin mouths to the demilune basins.

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Glossary:
• Attic base, a column base with two rings
• Console, a decorative bracket support element
• Demilune, half moon or crescent shape
• Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
• Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue

Innerwick Jubilee Fountain and Trough

Location: Innerwick, East Lothian, Scotland

At the roadside heading west from Innerwick Village to Thurston House is a memorial drinking fountain and horse trough commissioned by Richard Hunter of Thurston to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887.

The spring fed fountain is housed in a Dutch gable end of red sandstone ashlar. Originally, it was surmounted with a globe finial which has since been lost or destroyed, due to vandalism or negligence.

On the left side of the base is an arrow shaped symbol carved into the stone. Used in ordnance survey it is known as a trig point.

A slate plaque is engraved in the gable head: A Man Of Kindness / To His Beast Is Kind / But Brutal Actions / Show A Brutal Mind / Remember! He Who Made Thee / Made The Brute / Who Gave Thee Speech And Reason / Formed Him Mute / He Can’t Complain / But God’s All-Seeing Eye / Beholds Thy Cruelty / And Hears His Cry / He Was Designed Thy Servant / Not Thy Drudge / Remember! His Creator / Is Thy Judge

The cast iron drinking fountain is a modified version of casting #16 (3 feet 3 inches high and 2 feet 7 inches wide) manufactured by the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow. The wall mounted drinking fountain is in the form of a round arch trimmed with highly decorated fret detail and rope moulding. The recessed interior of the arch contains a shell lunette from which a tap protrudes, and a raised dedication, VR Jubilee 1887. A single drinking cup on a chain was formerly suspended from a palmette finial.

Seated on a concave base, the animal trough contains the manufacturer’s stamp, Walter MacFarlane & Co. / Saracen Foundry / Glasgow. This trough is casting number 24 with a basin at ground level for dogs.

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In the year 2000 the cast iron structures were repainted, and the trough was used as a flower planter. Although recorded as a Category B Historic Listing on 17 May 1989, the memorial has been neglected and is now overgrown.

Glossary:
• Ashlar, finely cut stone
• Dutch Gable (also known as Flemish gable), a gable whose sides have a shape made up of one or more curves
• Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
• Fret, running or repeated ornament
• Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
• Palmette, a decorative motif resembling the fan shaped leaves of a palm tree

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