Man and Beast Fountain

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

In the late 19th century, Mrs. Anna L. Moering approached the City of Cambridge with the proposal to donate a drinking fountain designed by H. F. Jenks, of Providence, Rhode Island. It was offered to provide clean drinking water to animals during the summer heat in Quincy Square (the triangular space between Massachusetts Avenue, and Harvard Street behind Lamont Library).

Although the City disagreed with the proposed location, an identical model of the offered fountain was erected on Quincy Street near Broadway.

cambridge 23 jul 1881

Cambridge Chronicle, 23 July 1881

The 24 feet high fountain manufactured in cast iron consisted of a solid base with a circular channel for use as a dog trough. A pedestal 4ft high supported a horse trough, 56 inches in diameter, in the form of a basin (at 4 feet 3 inches above ground level it was a comfortable height for horses to drink with ease) with the capacity to hold a barrel of water (100 gallons). At the base of the post, water flowed into the basin from miniature lion mascarons and dispensed into the trough at ground level. This design prevented contagious distemper. The waterways through the fountain were constructed so that they would not become clogged nor become frozen in cold temperatures. The centre of the bowl contained an ornamental post with a gas lantern.

A patent was applied for this design in 1880 by H. F. Jenks with the following description;
The design contemplates supplying water for man and beast; and to this end, as a feature of utility, I provide a capacious basin for animals to drink from, and a trickling stream, from which, in a cup, a portion may be caught for human use. An annular channel in the base permits dogs and birds to drink from.

The characteristic feature in the appearance of this design is a cylindrical pedestal mounted upon a suitable base, and supporting a circular bowl, nearly hemispherical in configuration, from the center of which springs a vertical tapering stem, bearing near its base two or more dolphins or mythical aquatic creatures, represented with streams of water issuing from their mouths and falling into the bowl. This bowl is so formed and located upon the pedestal that when approached by a team the pole will pass beneath the bottom of the said bowl, so as to allow the horses on both sides of the pole to drink at the same time without any loss of time or necessity for unhitching or driving up one side at a time, as usual, to water.

The stem may be continued upwardly, ornamented, as shown, with leaves, flutes, etc., and may support a lamp or lantern, if desired, in any suitable form, or basket for plants.

In the base and surrounding the pedestal is an upturned flange, enclosing a depressed annular for water; but this feature, though ornamental and useful, is not essential to my design.

The stem and pedestal may be plain or ornamented with vines and panels, without materially affecting the general aspect of the design.   

Glossary:

  • Annular; circular, ring shaped
  • Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue

 

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