Centennial Fountain

Location: Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, USA

In 1899 a sandstone drinking fountain was installed in the square outside Franklin Hall on Main Street. It was donated and maintained by the Women’s Club of Mechanicsburg. However, by 1906 it had deteriorated, and a decision was made to replace it in celebration of the upcoming Mechanicsburg Centennial celebrations. The new fountain was erected in front of Franklin Hall in 1907 following a successful campaign of public subscriptions.

1908 franklin hall

The fountain is just visible near the tree in this grainy image

franklin

In 1926 Franklin Hall was demolished and the following year the First Bank and Trust Company was built on the site. A motion to remove the fountain, as it no longer served its original purpose due to the advent of the motor vehicle, was recommended and passed. It is unknown what happened to the fountain at this point in history although it is likely that it was put into storage.

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During celebrations of the United States Bicentennial in 1976, the cast iron drinking fountain was restored and installed on the lawn behind the Washington Fire Company No. 1’s firehouse. It remains there today with noticeable deterioration and damage.

 

The cast iron structure which was manufactured by J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York offered water to man and beast. Seated on a square base with a small demi-lune basin at ground level for dogs to drink, the pedestal contains a panel on each of four sides decorated with an orb surrounded by flourish. Each corner is bound with a highly decorated pilaster. A large fluted trough for horses which jutted into the street was fed with overflow water from a small demi-lune basin via a shallow moat.

The bottom edge of the square central column is decorated with egg and dart moulding. Tall rectangular inset panels contain the head of a Naiad. In Greek mythology, a Naiad was a female water nymph who guarded fountains, wells, and other bodies of fresh water. The fourth panel hosts a basin for human use, and contains a lion mascaron which spouted water to be captured using a tin cup suspended on a chain.

A frieze of flora decorates the capital which originally supported an elaborately decorated urn capped with an orb and acorn motif symbolizing that the roots of a family or institution are old and deep. The cap and finial are currently missing and the urn is damaged.

A plaque is inscribed; Erected By The Efforts Of The Women’s Club Of Mechanisburg, August 14, 1907, To Commemorate The Centennial Of The Borough.

1907 ebay

Glossary

  • Capital, the top of a column that supports the load bearing down on it
  • Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
  • Egg and dart, a carving of alternating oval shapes and dart or arrow shapes
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Fluted, a long rounded groove
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • 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
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