Walter Preston Brownlow Fountain

Location: Johnson City, Tennessee, USA.

This drinking fountain is located at the east side of the railroad tracks on a triangular park on Main Street named Fountain Square. It was erected in 1904 to honor Congressman Walter Preston Brownlow of Tennessee’s First District, U.S. House of Representatives.

The fountain fabricated in Lenoir City, Tennessee, consisted of a circular base with canted corners which also served as small troughs for dogs. A fluted circular pedestal, decorated with floral frieze interposed with panels for dedication, supported a large basin 3 ft. in diameter. Eight spigots offered bubbling jets of water for humans. Horses drank from the basin/trough, and overflow water was distributed to the dog troughs through the mouths of four dolphin jambs (dolphins are symbolic of guardians of water.)

Within the basin a circular pedestal supported the 7ft. tall figure of a barefoot Greek water carrier standing contrapposto upon a rock. The figure is dressed in a long classical robe tied at the hips with fabric flaring outwards from her shoulders. Water flowed from a tall urn resting on her right shoulder which she supports using both hands. The statue was designed by Allan George Newman and cast by J. L. Mott Iron Works.

When the fountain became an obstruction to traffic in 1937, it was removed. The statue was separated from the fountain and relocated to the north entrance of Johnson City memorial stadium. In 1943 a statue of Doughboy usurped her, and with no plans for the original statue she was sent to the dump where she was rescued and stored in a barn along Watauga Avenue.

Alice Mountcastle Summers, widow of James Alexander Summers (former mayor of Johnson City who was instrumental in the statue’s fabrication) purchased the statue then in need of repair. After remarrying and relocating to Henderson, North Carolina, the statue became a fountain centerpiece in the Zollicoffer family garden.

The Johnson City Chamber of Commerce began efforts to retrieve the statue in 1973. Following Alice’s death in 1979 the home in Henderson was sold with the stipulation that the statue be returned to Johnson City. After repair and restoration the statue was erected in the main lobby of the Public Library on September 20, 1983.

After several years the statue was moved to the downtown Municipal and Safety Building’s lobby. A bronze replica of the original statue was made in April 2011 and placed at Fountain Square in September 2013.

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Glossary:

  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • Contrapposto, stance where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed
  • Doughboy was a term used to indicate members of the US Army or Marine Corps
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
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Posted on August 20, 2015, in Architecture, Cast Iron, Memorial Drinking Fountain, United States of America and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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