Tupelo W.C.T.U. Drinking Fountain

Location: Tupelo, Mississippi, USA

Tupelo may be most recognized around the world as the birthplace of Elvis Presley; however, on the lawn of the Lee County Courthouse at Spring & Broadway is a drinking fountain erected by the Tupelo Women’s Christian Temperance Union in commemoration of State wide prohibition.

In 1908 there was a lawn, a sidewalk and a narrow boulevard in front of the courthouse. The fountain surmounted by a stone angel was originally located beyond the sidewalk near the edge of the road. It was situated there to allow beasts of burden to drink from a large trough on the side of the fountain. The design also supplied a small trough at ground level for dogs and smaller animals.

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Drinking fountain on left side of image

The drinking fountain was cast by J. L. Mott Iron Works of Trenton, New Jersey, USA. It is seated on a square base with pilasters on each corner and four panels containing bas-relief of an orb with flourish. The capital supports a single pedestal with four sides. The front panel contains a demi-lune basin into which water poured from a lion mascaron. A tin cup was originally suspended on a chain to allow humans the opportunity to drink. Above is a dedication plaque which reads: Tupelo / Woman’s Christian / Temperance Union / In Commemoration / Of / State wide Prohibition / January First / 1908.

On two sides is the mascaron of a woman symbolic of the W.C.T.U. which was a religious organization. The angel terminal is displayed with one hand on her heart and the other outstretched in an offer of assistance and comfort. The structure is now enclosed with a protective fence.

Glossary:

  • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • 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
  • Pilaster, a column form that is only ornamental and not supporting a structure
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

 

 

 

 

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