Monthly Archives: February 2014

Dylan Thomas Drinking Fountain

Location: Swansea, Wales

The provision of safe drinking water was a preoccupation of Victorians, and as lovers of ornamental decoration many drinking fountains were installed throughout the country. The drinking fountain in Cwmdonkin Park, Swansea, Wales was made famous by the poet Dylan Thomas. Childhood memories of his hometown initiated his poem, the Hunchback in the Park: Eating bread from a newspaper/Drinking water from the chained cup/That the children filled with gravel In the fountain basin where I sailed my ship/Slept at night in a dog kennel/But nobody chained him up.

The fountain which is part of the Dylan Thomas Trail has become known as the Dylan Thomas fountain although it existed before he was born. It was manufactured by the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland, and is unique in that the base, pedestal and basin are casting number 6; whereas, the crane finial was used in casting number 7.

The fountain was 5 foot 8 inches high and stood on a circular plinth. A single pedestal with spiral fluted relief rose from an octagonal base. Water flowed from spigots on two sides. A central urn with four projecting tendrils offered drinking cups suspended by chains. An old photograph shows the terminal was a crane. However, the current finial is a pineapple which, curiously, was the original feature of casting number 6.

Refurbishment of the park including the Dylan Thomas shelter, the drinking fountain, paths, railings and benches was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Tourism Project backed by the European Regional Development Fund, Swansea Council, and the Friends of Cwmdonkin Park. The restoration project was completed in 2013.

 

 

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Lotta’s Fountain

So much history surrounds this fountain that I have decided to present the data chronologically.

1875

Charlotte (Lotta) Crabtree, a talented child actress, who became a well loved Vaudeville performer, Charlotte (Lotta) Crabtreedonated the drinking fountain to the city of San Francisco, California, USA. It was dedicated by Mayor James Otis on September 9th.

The fountain was seated on a granite plinth. The base was in the form of a diagonal cross and the height of the structure was 24 feet. Two stone posts were installed at each corner of the base to protect the structure from vehicular damage.

The first section of the fountain (the font) was 4 feet wide and 3 feet high containing a semicircular basin on each of the four sides. Above each basin was a spring loaded brass door knob handle which released a flow of water from griffin masks. Black tin cups suspended on chains captured the water. Arch faceplates contained lunettes with lion head terminals.

Ornaments of Acanthus relief formed a separation between the upper and lower arch faceplates. Three medallions represented California’s leading industries of mining, commerce and agriculture; and a fourth medallion was inscribed, Presented/to the citizens/of/San Francisco/by/Lotta.

The center pillar was comprised of two attic bases with bands of alternating floral and fluted relief. It was surmounted by a gas lamp with two suspended side globes. The apex was a stem with three lilies and small golden balls.

As an animal lover, Lotta insisted that the fountain be used to quench the thirst of both animal and human. A small basin was therefore available for dogs and a trough for horses.

Records show that the fountain was shipped from Philadelphia and reassembled in San Francisco, yet the manufacturer of the fountain is unknown. An educated guess regarding the manufacturer of the fountain is Wood & Perot Ornamental Iron Works. Many of the decorative cast ironwork features in houses and gardens all over the country were produced by this foundry.

There is a suggestion that it was modeled after a set piece in an 1873 play named Zip; or, Point Lynde Light, by Frederick Marsden. The role of a young girl who lives with the lighthouse keeper and foils a plot to wreck a passing ship by blacking out the lighthouse was played by Lotta at Booths Theater in Manhattan.

1906

The fountain survived the devastating earthquake of 1906 and ensuing blaze. When it was discovered that fire hydrants had not been maintained, assembly lines hauled buckets of water from the fountain in an effort to fight the fire. Hence, it became known as Lotta’s Pump.

The fountain also became a rallying point for survivors searching for news of loved ones.

Every year on April 18th at 5:12a.m., the moment of the main shock, a ceremony is held in remembrance.

1910

On December 24th, the celebrated opera soprano, Madame Luisa Tetrazzini, held an open air concert in gratitude for the rebuilding of the city. A metal panel was sculpted by Haig Patigian to commemorate this occasion. An inscription reads, To remember/Christmas Eve 1910/when/Luisa Tetrazzini/sang to the people/of San Francisco/on this spot. The panel also contains a scroll with lyre and olive branch, and a left facing bust of Luisa. It was installed on the mid section of the pillar in 1911.

1916

During a reconstruction of Market Street, which included the installation of new street lights, four additional bands were added to the pillar. This increased its height to 32 feet.

The Agriculture medallion was replaced with a plaque that reads, Reconstructed/by/the Path-of-Gold/Festival Committee/October/4-5, 1916.

When the column was extended, the side globes and the three lilies appear to have been removed from the apex.

1928

On November 14th, San Francisco Traffic Law Enforcement recommended the removal of Lotta’s Fountain from the intersection at Third and Market due to traffic obstruction.

1947

The pillar was temporarily concealed with a fundraising thermometer for the Community Chest organization.

1954

The fountain was almost demolished by a drunken driver.

1962

The entire structure was sandblasted to restore its original details. The Commerce medallion was lost during this renovation.

1974

Originally located at the intersection of Third, Market and Kearny Streets, it was refurbished and moved ten feet after the renovation of Market Street. It is currently located on an island at the intersection of Market Street, Geary and Kearny Streets.

1975

The water flow to the fountain was turned off during the epic 1975 drought.

The fountain was restored and rededicated on its 100th anniversary.

The structure was added to National Register of Historic Places on June 20th.

1998

In February, the glass lamp blew off in a storm.

The fountain was completely dismantled and restored close to its original appearance. Bands were removed to return the fountain to its original height, and the structure was painted with a bronze coloured paint. The final cost of restoring the monument was shared by the city, the Art Commission’s Market Street Fund, and the California Federal Bank.

In September, a ceremony was held on the 124th anniversary of the monument’s original dedication.

2005

Refurbished prior to the Earthquake Centennial Celebration in 2006 the San Francisco Arts Commission retained ARG Conservation Services to provide specialized conservation treatment for Lotta’s Fountain.

2014, current status

Drinking cups were removed due to concern over public health and the spread of disease. The removal date is unknown.

Three of the original medallions display gold rush miners digging for gold, a schooner ship, and a dedication: Presented/to the citizens/of/San Francisco/ by/Lotta/1875. The fourth medallion contains an inscription: Reconstructed/by/the Path-of-Gold/Festival Committee/October/4-5, 1916.

A plaque at the base of the fountain states: Lotta’s Fountain/Gift of Lotta Crabtree 1875/National Register of Historic Places 1975/The Fountain survived the 1906 Earthquake/at which time it became a meeting place/for people in search of their families/Restored in 1999 by the Arts Commission of the City and County of San Francisco.

Sources

http://www.artandarchitecture-sf.com/financial-district-san-francisco-december-13-2011.html

http://forgotten-ny.com/2012/07/lottas-fountain/

http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM7MGG_Lottas_Fountain_San_Francisco_CA

http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=record_ID:siris_ari_341770

http://www.zpub.com/sf/history/crab2.html

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Lotta-s-Fountain-Flows-Again-S-F-landmark-3316361.php#photo-2488195

http://www.argcs.com/portfolio-item/lottas-fountain/

http://www.noehill.com/sf/landmarks/nat1975000475.asp

http://dykins.webs.com/lottacrabtree.htm

https://archive.org/details/sanfranciscothea19386sanf

Google Books: America’s Longest Run: A History of the Walnut Theatre

http://geology.about.com/od/historicearthquakes/ig/SFquake2006/lottasfountain.htm

http://www.noehill.com/sf/landmarks/sf073.asp

http://www.noehill.com/sf/landmarks/nat1975000475.asp

http://foundsf.org/index.php?title=Lotta%27s_Fountain

http://www.mistersf.com/new/index.html?newlotta.htm

http://www.flickr.com/photos/opusbloo/4858982670/in/photostream/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/3967054540/in/photostream/

http://www.jstor.org/stable/20569200


Fountains, Distant Twins & Cousins

In a deviation from most of the memorial fountains documented here, these drinking fountains were not erected for human use.

The fountain in Loanhead, Midlothian, Scotland was actually a drinking trough for horses with a small basin for dogs at ground level. The trough was a circular cast iron basin supported on legs in the form of horses’ hooves. A central fluted column was capped with a central lamp roofed in with scales of opal glass that cast the light downwards (design number 223.) A crown encircled by flowers was surmounted by a trio of spiked orbs. It was manufactured by Walter Macfarlane’s Saracen Foundry, and donated to the burgh of Loanhead by Provost Hugh Kerr to mark the Coronation of King Edward VII, on 26 Jun 1902. It was removed in September 1933.

An identical fountain is located at Belmont & Main Street, Rondebosch, Capetown, South Africa. A mining magnate named George Pigot Moodie, donated the horse trough to the people of Rondebosch in September 1891. The lamp atop the fountain was the first to have electric street lighting in the area. It was declared a national monument on 10 April 1964, and was restored recently in 2013.

Two additional fountains very similar in structure are located in the Capetown area:

  • In Mowbray at the intersection of Durban and Camp Ground Roads is a fountain donated by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. A shield on the post is inscribed: SPCA 1899. The base differs from the previous examples, and is not supported by horse legs. The central stanchion supports the structure which is seated on a circular plinth.
  • The second fountain is located at Jubilee Square off St George’s Street in Simon’s Town. It was erected in memory of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee as identified on the shield: Queen Victoria Memorial 1837. This fountain is supported by a central column and four short pedestals. The column rises from the basin where four lion masks spout water. Four projecting tendrils are evident and may have suspended cups allowing humans to drink from the spouting water whilst horses drank from the large basin. The difference in the lamp finial may be the result of damage or replacement.

 


Dr. Balfour Memorial Fountain

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

The drinking fountain located at Klondyke Street, Newcraighall, is unique in that it is not the sole work of one manufacturer.

Although this fountain is a design from George Smith & Co.’s Sun Foundry, their designs were acquired by the Lion Foundry of Kirkintilloch when the Sun Foundry closed in 1899. The structure is 9 feet 10 inches high, and consists of four columns with orb capitals rising from a single plinth to support a solid domed canopy. The interior column connectors to the dome were adorned with four descending dolphins, two of which are missing. Dolphins are symbolic guardians of all things water related.

Arch faceplates with drip fret detail offered a flat surface for inscriptions in raised metal letters; civic virtues such as temperance were extolled on many drinking fountains. Over each arch, cartouches within each lunette offer commemorative dedication or crests. The physical form of the dedication cartouche has been modified to accommodate the inscription: Erected By / The / People / Of This District / To Show Their Rich Esteem / For The Memory / Of / Dr Andrew Balfour / Who / For Thirty Years Took A Great Interest / In The Welfare Of This Village / Died 28th December / 1906 // Erected June / 1907. The dome finial is a two tiered vase with a spike.

The pillar font was manufactured by Glenfield and Kennedy of Kilmarnock and is a cylindrical fluted column. The manufacturer’s stamp is visible on two sides. A basin is located at the base for the use of small animals.

The drinking fountain was erected in 1907 at Whitehill Street to commemorate Dr. Andrew Balfour who had died the previous year. As detailed in the dedication, Dr. Balfour was a valued member of the community. On 24 May 1884 in Niddrie, a serious fire broke out in No. 7 pit which was about 250 fathoms deep. During the rescue effort, seven miners were discovered dead, one of whom was clasping in his arms his son, still alive. Information was immediately sent to the surface, and Dr. Andrew Balfour and Dr. John Balfour of Portobello, descended and gave medical assistance to the rescued miners, who were much exhausted. In 1890 an influenza epidemic hit the area and Dr. Balfour treated 146 cases of in a three week period in the Newcraighall mining village.

The fountain was listed a category C historic building on 29 April 1977.

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
  • 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
  • Plinth, Flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.

 


Union Drinking Fountain

In the late 19th century, four artesian wells were the only source of potable water in Monroe, North Carolina, U.S.A. As traffic increased over the years, drainage from the street caused the wells to become polluted creating a health hazard. The solution to providing sanitary water was the purchase of two cast iron drinking fountains in 1899 from the J. L. Mott Company of New York City which were installed on the grounds of the Union County Courthouse in 1900 at the corner of Jefferson and Hayne.

A photo of two soldiers drinking from the fountain at the corner of Main and Franklin Street was published in the Charlotte Observer in October 1941. The caption read: The drinking fountain pictured below is on the courthouse square at Monroe. It and another like it were placed there about 1900 and were condemned about 20 years ago because of not being sanitary. With the demand for drinking fountains, the fountains have been modernized and are in operation again.

The 5 feet 5 ½ inches high, 300lbs, fountain was advertised as a drinking fountain for man and dog. The structure was a highly decorated circular pedestal seated on a square plinth. Decorative relief is in the form of shells, fruit and flora. Lion masks on two sides spouted water from the City’s newly installed waterworks. A tin cup affixed with a chain provided access to the water that drained into two small basins. Two bowls at the base of the pedestal provided water for animals.

With the advancement of society, the fountains became redundant and were placed in storage. When Mark Watson, a courthouse historian, discovered them he thought they would be a great centerpiece for a new exhibit planned for the public. In 2012 the Public Works Department received approval from the County Manager to have the fountains restored by Robinson Iron, an Alabama company, that owns the original plans and specifications from J. L. Mott.

The neglected fountain was missing the pineapple finial symbolic of hospitality, the lion masks, bowls, and parts of the decorative detail. Robinson craftsmen replicated and recreated these items. The structure was dressed with a zinc rich pre-primer followed by an epoxy primer and an acrylic polyurethane finish which was antiqued to accent the high relief of the ornament.

The placement of the restored the fountain was to be determined by Public Works, most likely within the Union country government center.

Sources

http://www.robinsoniron.com/newsletters/pages/nl_union_co_drinking_fount.html

http://history.union.lib.nc.us/heritageroompictures/01166.htm

http://click2gov.monroenc.org/agendamanager/City%20Council/2013-02/19-18-00/Packet.pdf


Children’s Jubilee Fountain

Location: Launceston, Tasmania

Celebrations of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 were celebrated throughout the Commonwealth.The Launceston Council created a Juvenile Festival Fund to provide commemorative medals to five or six thousand children who also received refreshments. A small balance remained in the Fund, and it was proposed by Alderman Sutton that the children should, through their own efforts, contribute to the erection of a public fountain at the entrance to the Launceston City Park.

Celebrations of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 were celebrated throughout the Commonwealth. The Launceston Council created a Juvenile Festival Fund to provide commemorative medals to five or six thousand children who also received refreshments. A small balance remained in the Fund, and it was proposed by Mr. Alderman Sutton that the children should, through their own efforts, contribute to the erection of a public fountain at the entrance to the Launceston City Park.

An order was placed by Messrs. Hart and Son from the catalogue of Walter Macfarlane and Co., Glasgow. It arrived in Launceston towards the end of 1891. However, the amount required to reimburse the purchase price had not been achieved, and the fountain was put into storage until the debt was cleared.

This was accomplished in 1897 and coincided with Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. A procession marched from the Market Green to the City Park consisting of the Mayor, City Council, Parliamentary representatives, public bodies, societies, schools and citizens. The ceremony included a Royal salute which took place in Victoria Square. A commemorative oak was planted in City Park and children sang ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘God bless the Prince of Wales’ prior to the Mayor turning on the water in the Children’s Jubilee Fountain. The fountain is located at Tamar Street, City Park, Launceston, Tasmania.

The canopied drinking fountain is design number 20, an elaborate 18 feet by 4 feet fountain, sold by Walter Macfarlane & Co, and manufactured at the Saracen Foundry, Possilpark, Glasgow, Scotland. Seated on a three tiered octagonal plinth, the open filigree canopy is supported by eight columns with griffin terminals which are positioned over capitals with foliage frieze above square bases.

The highly decorated cusped arches were trimmed with rope mouldings. Cartouches contained within each lunette offer shields for memorial: City crest , Crane with bulrushes, bust of Queen Victoria, and two dedication shields with the inscriptions: Presented to the city by the children of Launceston to commemorate the Queen’s Jubilee, 20th June, 1887, and, Erected on Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee 20th June 1897.

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.

Doves and flowers offer decorative relief on the circular, ribbed dome. The internal capitals contain flowers and the internal lunettes display lion mascarons. The structure is surmounted with an eagle finial.

Under the canopy stands the font (design number 18.) A circular shaft, ornamented with water lilies, rests on a wide base with canted corners. Four lion jambs support four highly decorated quatrefoil basins. Rising from the centre is a pyramid shaped stanchion decorated with swan and bird decoration. A kylix-shaped lamp terminal with four consoles offer bronze drinking cups suspended by chains.

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

I would like to thank Pat Griffin for his assistance in photographing the fountain specifically for this blog. Full size images can be viewed at his Flickr Photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/96393872@N07/

Glossary

  • 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
  • Cusped Arch, the point of intersection of lobed or scalloped forms
  • Filigree, fine ornamental work
  • 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
  • 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

 

 


Anderson Fountain

Location: Coleraine, Country Londonderry, Ireland

Land for a public park in the town of Coleraine was acquired with £3,000 bequeathed by Hugh Anderson in 1876 to the Town Commissioners. A quarter of a century later in 1902, the land was bought, the park designed, and named after its benefactor. The park is large, divided into three parts by through roads.

A memorial drinking fountain was erected in 1911 to commemorate the donor and is located on the northern section between Brook Street and Union Street. The fountain was listed as an historic building, category B, in June 1977, and restored recently as part of a major renovation of the park.

The canopied drinking fountain is design number 21 (18 feet by 4 feet) from Walter Macfarlane’s catalog manufactured at the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland. Seated on a three tiered octagonal plinth, the canopy is supported by eight columns with griffin terminals which are positioned over capitals with foliage frieze above square bases.

The highly decorated cusped arches are trimmed with rope mouldings which display lunettes with an image of a crane. Cartouches offer shields for crests and memorial: The Hon. The Irish Society of London presented as a free gift three roods and ten perches of the land included in this park and also £250 towards the cost of its equipment. On side arch faceplates provide a flat surface for 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.

Doves and flowers offer decorative relief on the circular, open filigree, ribbed dome. The internal capitals contain flowers. The structure is surmounted with a vase and spiked obelisk finial.

Under the canopy stands the font (casting number 7) 5 foot 8 inches high. A single pedestal with four decorative columns rises from an octagonal base. Four salamanders descend the fountain pedestal as a symbol of courage and bravery. The basin has a scalloped edge and decorative relief. A central urn with four projecting tendrils offered drinking cups suspended by chains. The terminal is a crane.

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
  • Cusped Arch, the point of intersection of lobed or scalloped forms
  • Filigree, fine ornamental work
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Fret, running or repeated ornament
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • 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
  • Obelisk, a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top
  • 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
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal