Following on the heels of Jack Grone’s informative article on development activity in neighborhoods north of Delmar, I learned of a fundraising effort to restore the historic fountain in Fountain Park. The fountain, which sits in the middle of the acre and 1/2 oval located on Euclid just a few blocks north of Delmar, has been in need of repair for at least 10 years.
Kingsway Development’s Kevin Bryant estimates the cost of repairs to be $30,000. He approached the City’s Forestry Division for help but was told there wasn’t enough money in the budget. Bryant has since started a GoFundMe effort to cover the restoration. $3,500 has been raised to date.
Another important feature of the park, which has garnered more attention, is the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King which is situated at the west end. The bronze statue was sculpted by St. Louisan Rudolph Torrini in 1978.
Forty years later, when the statue was in need of repair, the Neighbors of Fountain Park, including former 18th Ward Alderman Terry Kennedy, AKT Studios, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. – Epsilon Lambda Graduate Chapter St. Louis, Centennial Christian Church (DOC), St. Louis City Parks Department and The Board of Public Service, joined forces and came up with the funds to hire AKT Studios to restore the statue. AKT Studios has also been hired to restore the fountain as soon as funds can be raised. Photos from the rededication, in September 2018, can be found here.
There is so much interesting history to be found about Fountain Park in the 1982 nomination of the Fountain Park Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places. Here is a fascinating excerpt:
“Another important stimulus to the growth of Aubert Place (or Fountain Park as it is now called) was the improvement of the one and a half acre park site which had been donated to the City by lot owners in 1889. Before the Park Department appropriated funds to grade and plant the park in 1890-91, Fountain Park was little more than a vacant, muddy open space with no resemblance to the formal park platted in 1857. Over the next few years, the city added trees, shrubbery, flower beds, walkways, ornamental lights and, as a centerpiece, installed a graceful iron fountain which had stood in the Merchants Exchange Building. Evidence of the city’s successful cultivation of the land is supplied by a 1902 guidebook to St. Louis which described Fountain Park as:
…a small breathing place in a thickly settled neighborhood, surrounded on all sides by handsome residences, and is an admirable playground for children. It contains but an acre and a half but is artistically laid out with walks, and the flower beds make it a bower of beauty.
At the turn of the century, Fountain Park had the distinction of being one of the city’s few small neighborhood parks which in terms of scale, location and facilities was a model advocated for adoption throughout the city.”
Kevin Bryant sent another bit of great information about the history of the fountain, which was donated in 1889, read it here.
Having observed what a draw the fountain on Maryland Plaza is to the CWE, I hope you will help our neighbors to the north continue the effort to bring back their neighborhood and beautify this gem of an urban park. All donations are tax-deductible.
In lieu of GoFundMe you can send a check to “The Collective Work Foundation,” 4901 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108.
P.S. On a personal note: Fountain Park figures prominently in one of my all-time favorite books, No Hurry to Get Home by Emily Hahn. When she was young, the author lived at 4858 Fountain Avenue, which she describes in great detail in her memoir. Hahn, who wrote for The New Yorker, was quite the adventurist and world traveler.