Fountain Shelter

Location: Washington Park, Albany, NY, USA

In 1842 a refectory, drinking fountain shelter and swings were constructed in Washington Park. In a time of Temperance the structure was erected with the purpose of providing needed refreshment. Intoxicating drinks, cigars and cigarettes were not sold.

The shelter was seated on a three tiered octagonal stone plinth. The elaborate wooden structure of the pavilion was Moorish in design. The dome and finial were gilded and bright colours accented the details. The roof was slate laid in parti-colours. The interior contained detailed panelling on the sides, and the piazza ceilings were elaborate.
Eight columns with trefoil arches supported the canopy. A three feet high lattice was constructed between four columns on each side of the structure restricting entrance and exit of the shelter. A central suspended gas globe lit the interior. The drinking fountain was placed in the centre of the structure beneath the lamp. Water was dispensed from a deep well supplied by city mains.

The font was a single pedestal basin with four decorative columns rising from an octagonal plinth. Four salamanders descended the fountain pedestal as a symbol of courage and bravery. The basin had a scalloped edge and decorative relief. A central urn with four outstretched tendrils offered drinking cups suspended by chains. The terminal was a crane recognized as a symbol of vigilance. This drinking fountain was casting number 7 from Walter Macfarlane’s catalog. It was manufactured at the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland.


A lack of maintenance caused deterioration, and by the 1960s the drinking fountain pavilion, croquet shelter and swings within the area had crumbled.


  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Parti-colour, having a predominant color broken by patches of one or more other colors
  • Piazza ceiling, vaulted roof
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal
  • Trefoil, An ornamental design of three rounded lobes

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