Author Archives: HIS

Kennett Square Water Fountain

Location: Kennett Square, PA, U.S.A.

The fountain was erected in July 1892 in front of the old Borough Hall which was demolished in 1905 and replaced with the Firemen’s Auditorium. The fountain was removed in 1921 due to declining horse traffic possibly related to the popularity of the railroad and the introduction of the automobile. The location became a parking lot in 1965 and is now the home of the Franklin Center.

The drinking fountain was mounted on a square block at the edge of the street with a small basin for dogs. Three square panels at the base contained bas-relief of a Naiad, and to the fourth was attached a trough for horses which jutted into the street. The highly ornamented trough was supported by two short pilasters decorated with acanthus. A horse head mascaron protruded above the trough to deliver water to thirsty horses. A panel beneath the spout was inscribed with the words “Humanity” and “Compassion”.

A tall pedestal was decorated with floral design inlaid into panels on each side. A tin cup on a chain for use by humans was suspended on the side facing the Auditorium. It would appear from photographs that there is no spigot or basin visible for human use, which leads to the assumption that the drinking vessel was intended to be filled from the horse head spout. The acroter with chamfered edge terminated with an open vase/urn.

The manufacturer is unknown although the structure contains features common to both J. W. Fiske & Company of New York City and J. L. Mott Iron Works Company of New York.

Glossary

  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Acroter, flat base
  • Bas-relief, sculpted material that has been raised from the background to create a slight projection from the surface
  • Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
  • Naiad, a female water nymph who guarded fountains, wells, and other bodies of fresh water.
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Pilaster, a column form that is only ornamental and not supporting a structure
  • Spigot, a device that controls the flow of liquid

Frances Willard Drinking Fountain

Location: Urbana, Illinois, USA

A drinking fountain erected from funds collected by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.) was unveiled on 21 Oct 1907 in front of the Flat Iron building at Spring Field and Main in Urbana.

The cast iron fountain, painted silver, supported a statue above the 5 foot pedestal. Reported as a life size statue of Frances Willard, it bears a remarkable resemblance to a casting from a sculpture by Giuseppe Moretti named Temperance who held a jug in her right hand with her left hand resting on her chest. The statue in Urbana differed in that her right arm was extended forward and raised to hold a lantern above her head.

The fountain was seated on a rectangular base with molded edge containing two small basins on alternate sides at ground level for dogs and four molded edge panels for inscription. An inscription was attached to the front panel. Dolphin mascarons spouted water into demi-lune fluted basins at the front and rear of the structure. Water was kept fresh and cool by ice stored in a compartment beneath the feet of the statue. The intention of persuading citizens to drink water and stay away from saloons misfired when the ice compartment was commandeered to cool citizen’s beer bottles.

When Main Street was being paved circa 1921 the structure was removed and stored at Crystal Lake Park. Several months later it was installed in Carle Park east of the pavilion and opposite Urbana High school where it remained from 1926-28. It was then replaced by a statue of a young lawyer by the name of Abraham Lincoln and returned to the storeroom.

Many ornamental iron decorations were destroyed after being requisitioned during the Second World War as raw material for the war industries and to boost public morale and it is believed that the fountain and statue met this fate.

Glossary:

  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • 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

Arboretum DrinkingFountain

Location: Walsall Willenhall, West Midlands, England

In 1870 the Walsall Arboretum and Lake Company was formed in order to provide the town with a public park. The Arboretum consisted of two boating lakes, two lodges, a boathouse, a bandstand, several summerhouses, a tree lined promenade, and lawns with formal bedding displays. The park was officially opened on 4 May 1874 by Lady Hatherton.

In June 1886 the Town Council installed a drinking fountain inside the lodge gates which was turned on by the Mayor, William Kirkpatrick, who drank the first cupful on 5th August.

I have discovered two photographs of a drinking fountain of the same style, but whether they are the same fountain is unclear. One image shows that it is located near the tennis courts which were opened in 1902.

This design was number 7 from Walter Macfarlane’s catalogue and was manufactured by the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow. Standing 5ft 8ins it featured a single pedestal basin with four pilasters rising from an octagonal plinth. Four salamanders descended the fountain pedestal as a symbol of courage and bravery.

Saracen #7

The basin, 2ft 6 ins in diameter, had a scalloped edge and decorative relief. The interior surface was engraved, and a sculptured urn was terminated by the figure of a crane, a symbol of vigilance. Four elaborate consoles supported drinking cups on chains. Water flowed from a spout into the drinking cup by pressing its edge against a projecting stud below the spout. The self-closing valve allows for operation with only one hand.

Symbolism was popular in Victorian times. Salamanders represent bravery and courage that cannot be extinguished by fire, and cranes are recognized as a symbol of vigilance.

Glossary:

  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Pilaster, a column form that is only ornamental and not supporting a structure
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

The Town Fountain

Location: Warwick, Massachusetts, USA

A cast iron drinking fountain fed by springs from nearby Mount Grace and originally located in the center of the road near the Baptist Church was moved in 1979 to the Town Common in front of the Warwick Free Public Library.

The fountain was donated to the town in 1900 by Julia Beatrice Thayer who was active and well known in her community as a suffragist, civic leader, and philanthropist. The designer and manufacturer Henry F. Jenks was present to supervise the installation.

According to a map created in 1963 by historian and former town resident Charles Morse, the fountain was once known as Captain Ball’s Fountain, a highly esteemed veteran of the Civil War who took part in Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. I have been unable to find documentation that would confirm the supposed dedication of the fountain which may have derived from the fact that Julia B. Thayer’s maiden name was Ball. However, Julia’s parents were a businessman David Ball from Keene and Fanny Parker Capron.

Henry F. Jenks’ 24 feet high drinking fountain for man and beast was identified as #3 in his foundry catalog. The fountain manufactured in cast iron consists of a solid base with an annular channel for use as a dog trough. The 4ft high fluted pedestal with attic base hosts arched panels for dedication or bas-relief enrichment. A movable panel in one side offers access to plumbing.

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) had the capacity to hold a barrel of water (42 gallons).

The centre of the basin contains a jamb from which four dolphin mascarons spouted water. Two drinking cups which were originally attached were removed following a 1910 regulation proclaiming the provision of public drinking cups in any public park, street or way to be unlawful. Waste water was directed to the dog trough at street level. This design prevented contagious distemper.

eanygard

Creative Commons License, Erika Nygard. Source: https://eanygard.wixsite.com/capt-ball-fountain

In 1979 the fountain was sandblasted and the water pump was fixed at the Rodney Hunt Machine company in Orange, MA. A duplicate of one of the dolphin mascarons was made to replace one which had broken off. The original mascaron was attached to a pipe to be used to fill jugs of water during the winter months. The highly decorated finial with floriated relief and a studded band terminated in an orb with the same detail as the basin.

The fountain was provided with self closing faucets and the pipes within were constructed to resist freezing in cold temperatures. Fountains were supplied both with and without an ice box attachment as desired. An ice box was placed near the sidewalk underground, which was provided with coils of tin lined pipe on which ice was placed to cool the water flowing through the coils to the outlet of the fountain.

The fountain was repaired and painted in 2019.

Glossary:

  • Annular; circular, ring shaped
  • 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
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
  • 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