Sentinel Fountain

Location: Point Richmond, CA, USA

We have the Women’s West Side Improvement Club to thank for the Indian drinking fountain located at Park Place & Washington Avenue (once known as the Triangle, and more recently as Indian Statue Park.)

After researching options a design was selected from J. L. Mott’s catalog which would accommodate humans, horses and dogs: casting #53, Indian Chief.

The fountain was delivered in August and unveiled at a public ceremony on 4 September 1909. The merchants of Point Richmond closed business for 2 hours for the unveiling.

The statue fell to the ground in 1946 when a driver leaving a local bar crashed into the structure with his truck. The Indian was removed, and the metal was recycled to assist in the war effort.

In 1956 the WWIC lobbied the City to restore the fountain to its original state. The Public Works Department suggested that the horse trough was no longer required, and that only one basin should be retained as a water well, converting the remaining two basins into planters.

The fountain base was removed during the 1960s during renovation of the area known as the Triangle.

In 1982 plans to redesign this area raised the idea of replicating the Indian statue. Funding for a new statue was successful thanks to many local contributors. San Francisco Foundation and Skaggs foundation of Oakland were the major benefactors. The statue, sculpted by Kirk St. Maur, is not an exact replica of the original as can be seen in the attached photos. A comparison of the differences is detailed below. The statue was mounted on a granite base and rededicated on 20 October, 1984.

The water supply to the fountain was cut off in 2002 due to repeated vandalism. Funding to make repairs was organized two years later; however the cost was prohibitive, and the project cancelled.

Three bronze plaques relate the story of the Indian Statue Fountain.

  1. “THE SENTINEL” / KIRK ST. MAUR / SCULPTOR / DEDICATION / OCTOBER 20 1984 / MAYOR THOMAS J. CORCORAN / CITY OF RICHMOND, CALIFORNIA / HISTORY OF THE INDIAN STATUE / THE FIRST INDIAN STATUE WAS COMMISSIONED AND DEDICATED / AT THIS SITE IN 1909 BY THE WOMEN’S WEST SIDE IMPROVEMENT / CLUB. LOST TO THE RAVAGES OF TIME, THE STATUE FELL AND / BECAME SCRAP METAL FOR THE WORLD WAR II EFFORT. / MANY HAVE JOINED TOGETHER FOR TODAY’S DEDICATION. THE / HISTORICAL INTEREST IN THE CHOICE OF A NATIVE AMERICAN / REMAINS THE SAME: HIS FREEDOM LOST IN OUR PAST IS A / REMINDER OF HOW PRECIOUS FREEDOM IS AND HOW / PRECARIOUS SURVIVAL REMAINS.
  2. THE STATUE AND POINT RICHMOND TRIANGLE / RENOVATION HAS BEEN MADE POSSIBLE / THROUGH THE VISION OF ROD GARRETT AND / THE FOLLOWING CONTRIBUTORS: / THE SAN FRANCISCO FOUNDATION / CHEVRON RESEARCH COMPANY / THE ATCHISON TOPEKA AND SANTA FE RAILWAY /A comprehensive list of donors…
  3. ….THE POINT RICHMOND / HISTORY ASSOCIATION AND THE POINT RICHMOND / BUSINESS ASSOCIATION, REQUIRED ENTHUSIASM / AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT, DONATIONS HAVE BEEN / GIVEN IN THE NAMES OF THE FOLLOWING: / A comprehensive list of donors follows… / INDIAN STATUE DAY – OCTOBER 18,1986

The statue of an Indian was originally a 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. The statue was also offered atop a cast iron drinking fountain.

The fountain was manufactured by J. L. Mott Iron Works with dimensions of 5ft. 9ins. to the top of the head and 6ft. 6ins. to the top of the feathers. A large square base contained two small wells for dogs, a trough for horses and three demi basins for humans. On four sides, there was a lunette containing a frieze with lion masks. A column extended above with laurel decoration, guilloche and two consoles bearing globe lamps. The capital supported the Indian figure.

The original statue: In his right hand the Indian Chief held an arrow, and in his left hand he held a bow attached to a base near his left foot, which rested 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 balanced the sculpture. He was 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.

The current statue: In his left hand the Indian Chief holds a bow attached to a base near his left foot, which rests on a rock. A feather protrudes from the back of his head. A strap is worn diagonally across his chest from the left shoulder to right hip. He wears a cloak, a breechcloth (fabric tucked into a belt that covered the front and back), leggings and boots.

Glossary

  • Capital, The top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Console, A decorative bracket support element
  • Frieze, The horizontal part of a classical entablature just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Guilloche, Decorative engraving technique of two or more bands twisted over each other in which a very precise intricate repetitive pattern
  • Lunette, The half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting

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Posted on November 8, 2014, in Architecture, Cast Iron, Drinking Fountain, J. L. Mott, United States of America and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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