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Charlottesville Fountain

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

During the late 19th century, the City of Charlottesville erected four drinking fountains in the downtown area. One of the fountains was located at the Midway School and was still in existence in 1917 (the Lewis & Clark monument now stands in this location).

Circa 1917 Midway School Source: holsinger photographs UVA library

Circa 1917 Midway School
Source: holsinger photographs UVA library

Another drinking fountain which stood outside the Courthouse on Jefferson Street was removed when the Monticello Hotel was built in 1926. It was restored and installed outside the Courthouse in 2004.

cville_court Sq

A marker placed in paving stones on the ground relates the history of the fountains. During the late 1800’s, the City of Charlottesville installed four watering fountains in the downtown area. The fountains were designed to provide water to the citizens, their horses and other domesticated animals. Water was provided by the City water system and fed through four fish-like features to the upper bowl. The overflow then filled the lower trough for smaller animals. A fountain similar to this one once stood in front of the courthouse on Jefferson Street and was removed at the time the Monticello hotel was built in 1926. Through combined efforts of the Charlottesville Volunteer Fire Company and the City of Charlottesville, this fountain, one of the original four, was restored to this location in November 2004.

 

The structure stands on an octagonal plinth. A fluted circular moulding creates a trough at ground level for the use of dogs. The fluted pedestal with attic base rising from the center of the trough hosts an arched panel containing a dedication, Erected 1892 and the legend, Patented / June 8, 1880.

A second panel contains the image of a woman in bas-relief. She is dressed in classical robes raising a cup/bowl in her right hand and a pitcher in her left hand.

The manufacturer’s name is visible, Henry F. Jenks / Pawtucket, R.I.

The capital which supports a large basin 56 inches in diameter, and capable of holding 100 gallons, is decorated with bas-relief fret. It is 4 feet 3 inches above ground level and was originally used by horses. A central jamb of 4 dolphins spouts water into the basin with the overflow falling to the trough below. The pipes within the fountain were constructed to resist freezing in cold temperatures.

The finial is highly decorated with floriated relief and a studded band terminating in a globe with the same detail as the basin.

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
  • Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
  • Fluted Shaft, a long rounded groove decorating the shaft of a column
  • Fret, running or repeated ornament
  • Jamb, a projecting vertical post containing sculpture
  • Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
  • Plinth, flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.

D.A.R. Fountain

Location: Alexandria, VA, USA

In 1909 a proposal to erect a fountain in front of the market was introduced to the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution with the intention of supplying fresh drinking water to horses pulling carts and farmers bringing produce to market. The selected design (by Philadelphia jeweler J. E. Caldwell & Co.) incorporated one of four historical cannons that had been discovered along the Strand in 1908 during improvements to the river front.

The cannon was shipped to Philadelphia, and during construction a solid shot was discovered inside with the likelihood of gunpowder being present. This delayed construction and installation of the fountain which had been planned for April as evidenced on the dedication plaque. In fact the 7 foot 6 inch high bronze-and-iron fountain was not erected until May 6, 1912 where, at the brick intersection of Royal and Cameron streets festooned with flags and bunting, it was dedicated and welcomed with trumpeting and applause.

Three years later complaints were received that the fountain ran continuously wasting thousands of gallons of water; it had also become a place for neighbourhood youths to loiter and bang on the rim of the bowl; and the water basin was being used as a wash basin, bath tub and laundry. A petition was circulated complaining that it was a nuisance and a danger following a 1916 accident when an automobile collided with the fountain. At this point in history the bronze dolphin finial disappeared.

In 1918 an army truck hit the fountain knocking it off its pedestal and catapulting it 40 feet without additional damage to the structure. It was therefore reconnected and remained in situ until October 1919 when it was shipped to Philadelphia for repairs. Upon return it was relocated to the southwest corner of Fairfax and Cameron streets.
The fountain was totally dismantled and rebuilt in 1963. A dedication ceremony was held on June 2, 1967 when as part of the urban renewal project, it was relocated to its present location at North Royal Street.

Not a casting from an established iron foundry, this fountain is unique. The circular base with a channel has two small basins for dogs. A central base supports 4 circular pedestals with attic base and a center column created from the old cannon. A deep circular trough, 4 feet in diameter, with a lip offered water for horses. 2 demilune basins protrude from the side of the cannon. The dipper cups for drinking are missing.

2 dolphin consoles support a basin decorated with scrolls. On the west side is a dedication engraved in a shield format of scrolls and shell: Erected April 1, 1912 / By The / Mount Vernon Chapter D.A.R. / In Memory Of / The Colonial And Revolutionary / Events Of The Town Of / Alexandria Virginia. On the east side is the insignia of the D.A.R. The finial was a dolphin which spouted water into the basin and from the dolphin mouths to the demilune basins.

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Glossary:
• Attic base, a column base with two rings
• Console, a decorative bracket support element
• Demilune, half moon or crescent shape
• Finial, a sculptured ornament fixed to the top of a peak, arch, gable or similar structure
• Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue

Harrisonburg Fountain

Location: Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA

In 1904 the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union encouraged local chapters to erect fresh water fountains in public venues. The black-painted cast iron drinking fountain located at the southern side of the Court House Square regularly quenched the thirst of citizens as they attended Court or visited the downtown area on business.

An octagonal base supports a single pedestal with attic base. The pedestal lacking any form of decoration rises to an acroter which supports a two tiered octagonal column decorated with floral relief. Lion masks spout water into basins protruding from two sides. Metal cups which are no longer present were suspended by chains attached to rings. The original terminal is 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.. The base at the front of the statue is inscribed with raised letters, “J. W. Fiske 26.28 Park Place New York.” The statue has been identified as Virtue.

After repeated vandalism the head of the statue was replaced in 1995. The head was stolen once again and the right hand holding the bird was also ripped off. Although the head was never found the hand and bird were recovered. The decapitated statue was removed from the fountain in 2004 and stored in the basement of the Rockingham County Courthouse.

The statue was restored by Fine Line Architectural Detailing funded by the Margaret Grattan-Weaver Foundation. The project for restoration includes making a cast of a statue from the same design atop a fountain located in Ligonier Borough, Pennsylvania. Once restored, the statue will be displayed inside the courthouse. The drinking fountain will remain outdoors and be operational.

Glossary

  • Acroter, flat base
  • Attic base, a column base with two rings
  • Terminal, statue or ornament that stands on a pedestal

 

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