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Snider Fountain

Location: Kilbourn, Wisconsin, USA

A drinking fountain was donated by Charles W. Snider to Kilbourn City (now Wisconsin Dells) in 1898, as a memorial to his wife and his brother. Originally erected at the intersection of Broadway and Superior streets, it was later installed in front of the old Kilbourn library in Broadway. In 1996 it was relocated once more to the east entrance of the present library at Elm Street.

The topic of the fountain was raised in 2005 at a Dells Country Historical Society meeting. After more than a century of deterioration, missing pieces, and cumulative layers of paint (brown & white and green & white) the structure was in need of restoration. The project was accomplished by the Robinson Iron Co. in Alexander City, Alabama. A replica of the original brass statue (now installed at the Dells Country Historical Society’s Bowman House) was cast in aluminium.

Funding for the project was achieved with an art auction and personal donations from near and far, all managed by the Save Our Fountain Committee. Mayor Craig Casey officiated at the re-dedication in 2006.

The fountain was manufactured by J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York. It consists of a single pedestal with attic base and canted corners surmounted by a bronze statue of Hebe, the water carrier sculpted by Bertel Thorvaldsen.

Eight arched cornices contain dolphin masks which are symbolic of guardians of water. Two of the mascarons spouted water into demi-lune fluted basins for human consumption. Drinking cups were suspended by chains.

Horses drank from two large demi-lune fluted troughs from which overflow water fed four smaller basins originally located on each corner for the refreshment of smaller animals. A plaque between the dog troughs was inscribed with the maker’s name, The J.L. Mott/Iron Wks. N.Y.

An attic base supported a short column containing 4 inset panels bounded by pilasters. Within the panels, 3 cartouches contained bas-relief and a fourth cartouche offered an engraved plaque. Dedicated To / Minnie Drinker Snider / And / Fred B. Snider / Like A Cup Of Cold Water To Fevered Lips Is / A Cheerful Unselfish Life In This Busy World / To Two Such Lives Which Found Happiness / In Kindness To Every Living Creature, This / Memorial Is A Tribute / Erected June 1898

The capital supports a statue of Hebe, the Greek goddess of youth, dressed in flowing robes. Standing contrapposto she holds a pitcher in her right hand and a cup in her left hand.

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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
  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • Cartouche, a structure or figure, often in the shape of an oval shield or oblong scroll, used as an architectural or graphic ornament or to bear a design or inscription.
  • ontrapposto, stance where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed
  • 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

Lewis Memorial Fountain

Location: Watertown, Wisconsin, USA

The drinking fountain located at the intersection of Main and Washington Streets was commissioned by the benevolent industrialist Robert E. Lewis and his wife Fanny in memory of their son, Clifton, who died age 44 from Bright’s disease, an inflammation of the kidneys.

Circa 1902. Used with permission. Source: http://www.watertownhistory.org/Articles/LewisFountain.htm

Circa 1902. Used with permission. Source: http://www.watertownhistory.org/Articles/LewisFountain.htm

Erected in 1896, the fountain was manufactured by J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York. The structure was seated on an octagonal stone plinth. It consisted of a single pedestal with attic base and canted corners surmounted by a bronze statue of an Indian Chief.

Circa 1898.Used with permission. Source: http://www.watertownhistory.org/Articles/LewisFountain.htm

Circa 1898.Used with permission. Source: http://www.watertownhistory.org/Articles/LewisFountain.htm

The fountain supplied water to horses, humans and dogs via dolphin mascarons. Eight arched cornices contained dolphin masks which are symbolic of guardians of water. Two of the mascarons spouted water into demi-lune fluted basins for human consumption. Drinking cups were suspended by chains.

Horses drank from two large demi-lune fluted troughs from which overflow water fed four smaller basins on each corner for the refreshment of smaller animals. A plaque between the dog troughs was inscribed with the maker’s name, The J.L. Mott/Iron Wks. N.Y.

An attic base supported a short column containing 4 inset panels bounded by pilasters. Within the panels, 3 cartouches contained bas-relief and a fourth cartouche was an engraved plaque.

Bas-relief on panels

Bas-relief on panels

The addition of a second concrete plinth raised the height of the horse troughs in 1908. Consoles bearing globe lamps were attached circa 1919.

Circa 1919. Used with permission. Source: http://www.watertownhistory.org/Articles/LewisFountain.htm

Circa 1919. Used with permission. Source: http://www.watertownhistory.org/Articles/LewisFountain.htm

The capital supported the Indian figure. The statue of an 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, the J.L. Mott Iron Works purchased the design and listed it in their catalog of statuary. 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, a bear claw necklace, a cloak, a breechcloth (fabric tucked into a belt that covered the front and back), fringed leggings and moccasins.

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The fountain was removed in 1908 to lay street car rails, and upon completion, it was re-erected in an east/west direction to lessen the chance of an accident while horses were drinking.

Circa 1908. Used with permission. Source: http://www.watertownhistory.org/Articles/LewisFountain.htm

Circa 1908. Used with permission. Source: http://www.watertownhistory.org/Articles/LewisFountain.htm

However, the fountain became an obstacle with the advent of the motor vehicle, and in 1925 the statue was toppled when a car hit the structure. Damaged beyond repair, a duplicate purchased from J. L. Mott Iron Works was erected in Union Park. It deteriorated there over several decades due to inclement weather and vandalism until it was relocated to the grounds of the Octagon House Museum in 1964 where it is in the custody of the Watertown Historical Society.

Many thanks to the Watertown Historical Society for permission to use the images. For a more in depth history please visit their site at http://www.watertownhistory.org/Articles/LewisFountain.htm

Glossary

  • Attic base, a column base with two rings
  • Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
  • Cartouche, a structure or figure, often in the shape of an oval shield or oblong scroll, used as an architectural or graphic ornament or to bear a design or inscription.
  • Console, a decorative bracket support element
  • Contrapposto, stance where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed
  • 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
  • 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.

The Unfortunate Boot

A statue of a boy standing with his feet apart, his right foot bare, pant leg rolled above his knee, holding a leaking boot with his right hand, is known by many names: the Little Fireman, the Immigrant, the Unfortunate Boot, and most commonly the Boy with the Leaking Boot. There are many of these statues throughout the world most of which stand in the centre of a fountain with water spraying from the toe of the boot. A few of them were actual drinking fountains.

J. L. Mott catalog

J. L. Mott catalog

The statues which were created as actual drinking fountains were purchased from J.W. Fiske and Co. and J. L. Mott Iron Works both companies from New York, NY. The description in the catalog stated that it was furnished complete with a ground basin fitted with drinking fountains. The drinking fountains were fitted with self closing faucets and pipes and also drinking cups. There were two sizes of basin offered; the larger fountain offered 8 drinking fountains and 16 drinking spouts; the smaller basin offered 4 drinking fountains and 8 drinking spouts.

Fresno, California

In an attempt to prevent children from entering public bars to get fresh drinking water, Sergeant D. E. Nichols of the Salvation Army initiated public subscriptions to fund the purchase of a drinking fountain from J. L. Mott Iron Works.

It was erected in 1895 at Van Ness and Mariposa on the lawn in front of the Fresno County Courthouse. The statue stood in the centre of an octagonal drinking fountain with eight spigots to supply water. The pipes were cooled by blocks of ice, and the water was retrieved in tin cups attached by chains.

It was relocated in 1921 and after repeated damage and vandalism it was placed in storage. A lost item it was replaced with a bronze copy in 1947 and erected in a different location. In 1954 it was moved once more. Vandalised again with the loss of the boot, it was returned to storage in 1969. In 1997 it was again restored, and placed in the Fresno County Plaza on Tulare Street.

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Houlton, Maine

The drinking fountain in Houlton was purchased from J.W. Fiske Iron Works with a monetary donation from Mrs. Clara P. Frisbie in 1914. Located in Pierce Park the octagonal base fountain was erected in 1916. Eight drinking fountains supplied water with cups suspended on chains. The base offered troughs for animals.

The statue has been repaired and restored many times by volunteers with experience in metalwork and painting, and it was discovered during restoration that the original colour of the Boy’s shirt was green. Throughout the years since 1973 the Rotary Club has donated money to assist with the restoration. Local companies have donated materials and Houlton Water Company absorbs the cost of water and a security light for the fountain.

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Stevens Point, Wisconsin

This statue was ordered from the J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York City and installed in 1895 in the center of the Public Square outside the fire station. The drinking fountain offered several side jets with suspended cups from which people could drink, and a walled basin near ground level for the animals. The statue has been damaged, vandalized and parts stolen over the years.

Within a year the fountain sustained damage when a team of horses and later a runaway mare caused considerable damage. A man driving in a horse drawn carriage also collided with it. The disappearance of the Boy’s leaking boot caused an uncontrolled spray. In an attempt to correct the malfunction a short piece of pipe was installed and a rubber tube was wrapped around the Boy’s torso and leg which gave him the nickname, The Snake Charmer. The fountain was repaired and the statue repainted in silver. Two years later one of the statue’s legs was broken affecting the flow of water leaving little in the basin for horses to drink.

In 1914 the city removed the fountain where horses had watered for 20 years. The statue which had been discarded in a field behind the Engine House was rescued by local firefighters and placed in sewer pipe outside the station. The missing boot had never been replaced and in 1936 it was decided that the boy should something in his hand. Five years later the statue was repainted and adorned with a creel and net, a rod under his left arm and a trout hanging from his right hand.

When Engine House No. 1 was relocated to the corner of Franklin and Division streets the statue was stored in the basement. An unsuccessful attempt to restore the boy by Art students at the University of Wisconsin led to its disappearance for nearly two years. Once again the fire department came to the rescue creating a pedestal and pool for the boy with his new concrete legs and vinyl boot. Each summer after 1975 he was dismantled for maintenance by the fire fighters.

Yet again vandals struck and in 1988 they pushed the statue off its pedestal causing decapitation and a hole in the torso. The cost to repair the statue was expensive and although a fund was started the money raised fell far short. Local craftsmen stepped in to repair the statue, volunteering their time and materials. The boy with the leaking boot was placed back on the fountain in a rededication ceremony in 1989.

Vandalism reared its ugly head in 1998 when the statue’s head was stolen although thankfully it was returned a few days later and once again restored locally. A concrete casting of the statue was made and erected in 2009 with a plan to house the original statue in a glass case inside Fire Engine House Number 1.

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Image Sources

http://www.downtownfresno.org/go/boy-with-the-leaking-boot

https://www.flickr.com/photos/boldlywanderlust/14126532943/

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/26217651

http://stevenspoint.com/index.aspx?nid=144

http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=26412