E.T.S.U. Original Fountain

Location: Johnson City, TN, USA

In 1911 the East Tennessee State Normal School was founded with Sidney G. Gilbreath as President, (a somewhat confusing term ‘Normal Schools’ were educational training schools for teachers). The establishment changed its name over the years as it evolved; East Tennessee State Teachers College, State Teachers College Johnson City, and East Tennessee State College until achieving university status in 1963 as Eastern Tennessee State University.

gilbreath hall

The top of the fountain is visible on the right between the tree and the building

The fountain which stands outside Gilbreath Hall has been in situ since the early days of the institution. The drinking wells were painted silver when it was restored circa 1950. It has been repainted or restored since.

ETSU 1950

The structure cast by J.L. Mott Iron Works is 7ft 8ins high with a base 2ft 7ins square. It consists of a square central column seated with attic base. Each of the four sides hosts a demi-lune fluted basin. The interior of a recessed arch is decorated with shell bas-relief and a dolphin mascaron from which water spouts. The tail of the dolphin extends outside the arch and is flanked by two nipple discs. A concave curve with decorative frieze and egg and dart molding sits beneath the capital which supports a triple stepped tier surmounted by an orb finial.

Glossary:

  • Attic base, a column base with two rings
  • 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
  • Demilune, 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
  • Frieze, the horizontal part of a classical moulding just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Mask/Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
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