Tag Archives: New York State

The Fountain That Wasn’t A Fountain

Location: Schenectady, New York State, USA

In 1844 at the current intersection of Front, Ferry, and Green Streets, a circular plot of grass was planted with trees and surrounded by a wooden fence to mark the site of a Colonial fort built in 1704.

In 1887 the wooden fence was replaced with an equivalent forged in metal, and a cast iron pedestal was installed surmounted by the statue of an Indian.

The pedestal is essentially a drinking fountain manufactured by J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York. The structure is seated on an octagonal stone plinth. It consists of a single pedestal with attic base and canted corners surmounted by a bronze statue of an Indian Chief. Eight arched cornices contain dolphin mascarons, symbolic of guardians of water, designed to spout water into basins.

An attic base supports a short column containing four inset panels bounded by pilasters. Alternating panels display a dedication plaque: Queens New Fort / Built 1705 / Demolished During / The Revolutionary War / This / Memorial Statue / Erected / 12th September 1887.

Two large demi-lune fluted troughs for use by horses usually attached to opposite sides of the pedestal were placed outside the perimeter of the fence. The troughs became obsolete during the advent of the motor vehicle and were removed.

The bronzed statue of an Indian mounted on a cast iron pedestal was purchased as a garden ornament by John Henry Starin, an affluent U.S. congressman who had hundreds of statues on his expansive property in Fultonville. Nicknamed St. Nicholas because of his generosity and philanthropy, Starin donated the statue to the city.

The model of the Indian was originally a wood carving created by Samuel Anderson Robb who was the leading cigar store Indian peddler. It was carved for William Demuth & Co. who cast it in zinc and advertised it in his catalog as “No. 53 Indian Chief.” In 1873, J.L. Mott Iron Works purchased the design and listed it in their catalog of statuary with dimensions of 5ft. 9ins. to the top of the head and 6ft. 6ins. to the top of the feathers. In his right hand the Indian Chief holds an arrow, and in his left hand he holds a bow attached to a base near his left foot, which rests on a rock. (This stance is called contrapposto, where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed.) A tree stump behind his right leg balances the sculpture. He is dressed in a headband containing three feathers standing erect, a bear claw necklace, a cloak, a breechcloth (fabric tucked into a belt that covered the front and back), fringed leggings and moccasins.

In 1898 a plaque was added to the base of the pedestal by the Common Council on the centennial anniversary of the inauguration of the city.


As part of Schenectady’s tri-centennial celebrations in 1962 the Indian statue was named Lawrence to commemorate a Christian Mohawk who assisted early settlers after the 1690 Massacre. A bronze plaque was attached to the base of the fountain following a parade.

In 1986, the fountain was refurbished, and the head dress and arrow on the statue were replaced. The feathers were incorrectly positioned to the left.

2008 wikimedia daniel case

Status 2009. Creative Commons License, Daniel Case. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lawrence_the_Indian_statue,_Schenectady,_NY.jpg

Twenty six years later in 2012, a project to restore the structure was administered by the Stockade Association and refinished by Legere Restorations using a blasting method with baking soda. Note that the feathers have been re-aligned to the original position.

2012 lawrence24may2012

Status 2012.


  • Attic base, a column base with two rings
  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • Contrapposto, stance where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed
  • 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
  • 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
  • Plinth, Flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.



Babylon Fountain

Location: Babylon, Long Island, NYS, USA

The drinking fountain in Babylon was erected at the intersection of Main Street and Fire Island Avenue/Deer Park Avenue. It was funded by the Women’s Exchange, a charitable organization formed to aid genteel women whose financial status had declined.

It was manufactured by J. W. Fiske Iron Works of New York City referenced in their catalogue as ‘drinking fountain for man and beast #209 with a cast iron base and bronze statue; the remaining structure was made of zinc.

On Memorial Day in 1897 a dedication ceremony was held with speeches and patriotic songs, and the American flag draping the fountain was removed. Water flowed from a spout in the base. It was considered a very handsome fountain which beautified the village.

A square base with four short columns supported a dog toothed acroter. Rosettes were carved into each panel between the columns. A single column pedestal contained four inset panels displaying two swans with raised wings that rested on an orb from which rose Neptune’s trident flanked by stylized flowers and bulrushes. Three sides of the structure contained a drinking vessel. At ground level there was a small trough for dogs surmounted by a sculptured dog kennel. A second kennel was also located on an adjacent side. A wide and deep trough decorated with acanthus was available for the use of horses (a dolphin like fish released water from its mouth into the horse trough.) A small basin for humans was decorated with large leaf pattern on the underside.

A multi-tiered acroter supported a 36″ tall statue of a maiden feeding a dove perched on her right wrist. With her left hand she gathers her robe on her hip creating a pouch that contains seeds. Her head is tilted slightly back and she holds a seed in her mouth.

In 1914 it was damaged when a trolley from a nearby hamlet overturned onto it. Three years later the State Health Department banned the use of public drinking fountains due to health concerns regarding infectious diseases. It was removed and a flagpole mounted in its place, and at this point in history the fountain became a lost item.

A duplicate fountain and statue was discovered in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, and in 2009 a local committee undertook the task of reconstructing the fountain and founded a Facebook page, The Babylon Village Historic Fountain Reconstruction Project. Due to fundraising, a Suffolk County grant, and the generosity of the people of Ligonier to permit their fountain to be disassembled and the parts cast into molds; a non-functioning replica of the fountain was reinstalled in front of the Village Historical Society on Main Street. The restoration was undertaken by Stewart Iron Works in Kentucky.

The official unveiling which took place on Memorial Day 2011 mimicked the original ceremony. The Mayor of Babylon, Ralph Scordino, thanked Ligonier Borough for its civic dedication, compassion, and commitment to the preservation of American heritage. A plaque next to fountain reads: this historical reproduction would not have been possible without the help and cooperation of the people of Ligonier, Pennsylvania.


  • Acanthus, one of the most common plant forms (deeply cut leaves) to make foliage ornament and decoration
  • Acroter, flat base


Image Sources




Deer Park Spring Fountain

Deer Park Spring is located in Congress Park in Saratoga Springs, New York, USA. Each of the 17 springs in the area is naturally carbonated, and each one has a unique flavor due to different minerals.

Hundreds of years ago, the Iroquois Indians frequented the area to hunt animals attracted to the minerals in the water. The Iroquois who bathed and drank the waters soon celebrated its healing powers as did the 19th century Settlers, and Saratoga Springs became a popular destination of the wealthy in the early 20th century.

Water is dispensed from a vein in the Congress Spring and is pumped to the Deer Park Spring Fountain named after the former Deer Park Lodge, a popular attraction that housed tame deer.

This cast iron fountain was erected in 1873 and is design number 48 manufactured by Andrew Handyside, an English iron foundry. The structure is a cylindrical column with attic base surrounded by six Corinthian columns. The highly decorative volutes support a cupola with Neptune mask frieze and a cornice with star detail. The finial is a putto holding a globe lamp above his head. The font is a raised basin into which a tap pours water. A globe lamp illuminates the interior.


  • Acroter, a flat base
  • Attic base, A column base with two rings
  • Corinthian, A fluted shaft with flowers and leaves at the capital
  • Cornice, A molding or ornamentation that projects from the top of a building
  • Cupola, A small, domed structure on top of a roof
  • Finial, A sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Frieze, The horizontal part of a classical entablature just below the cornice, often decorated with carvings
  • Putto, A figure in a work of art depicted as a chubby male child, usually nude
  • Volute, a spiral scroll-like ornament found in the capital of a column


Image Sources