Bascom Memorial Drinking Fountain

Location: Prospect Park Troy, NYS, USA

Henry Clay Bascom was a prominent business man, owner of the Vedder Pattern Works, a candidate for Governor of New York State, and a well-known Prohibitionist. His wife, Ellen Lucina Forbes Bascom, was a member and president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of Lansingburg, New York. She donated a drinking fountain to the City of Troy in memory of her husband, I wish to tender hereby to the city of Troy a memorial to the late H. Clay Bascom to take the form of a drinking fountain for man and beast to be erected in Prospect Park, where I trust its pure and cooling waters may symbolize the principles which were so dear to the one whose memory it will commemorate.”

It was erected in Prospect Park in 1907 south of the Warren mansion on the west side of Prospect Avenue. An engraved dedication on the front of the fountain read: H. Clay Bascom Memorial Fountain, Presented to the City of Troy by Ellen F. Bascom, 1907.

1910

Circa 1910

The 15’ 3” tall cast iron structure manufactured by J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York was seated on a square base. A large fluted demi-lune trough for horses was located at the front of the fountain with a trough for dogs at ground level which was filled with overflow water.

On four sides, there was a lunette containing a lion mascaron within armoria, flanked by acanthus. Two demi-lune basins on opposite sides offered refreshment to humans; and anchored adjacent to the basins were drinking cups suspended on chains. Faucets were operated by pressing metal buttons which released a flow of water over a system of coils encased in ice to provide cool refreshment. A column extending above repeated the mascaron with fleur de lys. A laurel frieze was situated beneath the cornice. (In 1908 a citizen donated two consoles bearing globe lanterns.)

The capital supported a statue of Hebe, the Greek goddess of youth, classically dressed in flowing robes.  Standing contrapposto she held a pitcher at her right side and a bowl in her raised left hand. The figure five feet in height was sculpted by Bertel Thorwaldsen.

Deterioration of the cast iron structure prompted its removal in 1943.

Glossary

  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Armoria, shield, coat of arms, crest
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Contrapposto, stance where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Fluted, a long rounded groove
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal

 

troy-ny-bascom-fountain-kids-c1910-postcard

Glossary

  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Armoria, shield, coat of arms, crest
  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Cornice, a molding or ornamentation that projects from the top of a building
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Fluted, a long rounded groove
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Lunette, the half-moon shaped space framed by an arch, often containing a window or painting
  • Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal

 

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