North of St. Louis' popular Central West End, lies one of the city’s most distinguished residential areas: Fountain Park. The area is bound by Dr. Martin Luther King Drive to the north, Delmar Boulevard to the South, Kingshighway Boulevard to the west, and Walton Avenue to the east.
Originally, the area was known as "Aubert Place", and when the subdivision was laid out by John Lay in 1857, a central oval-shaped area was reserved for a park space. In 1889, it was donated by Lay to the city and was named "Fountain Park", because of the fountain that was placed there as a gift from the Merchants Exchange. It had been in the Exchange's trading hall for some years -- a gift from John A. Scudder. Previously, it had graced Scudder's home near Grand Avenue and Olive Street. As an outdoor fountain, it proved to be a failure. It was constructed of flimsy materials, causing the figures to be blown down during any ordinary storm. Also, the diameter of the iron ground basin was too small in comparison to the height of the fountain, causing the spray to be carried outside of the basin by the wind. During 1904, both the old house and the large fountain received two coats of paint to improve the appearance of the area.
The fountain was renovated in 1964. William Severson of Ladue was the sculptor for the renovation of the fountain and Karl Kraus was the contractor. The cost of this renovation was $4,660. The work was done as part of $15,400 renovation of the park. The work was paid for out of the 1955 Bond Issue funds.
The process employed included creation of molds of details that were missing by using those details that remained. Details were cast from the molds using epoxy reinforced by fiberglass cloth. The main body of the fountain was sand blasted and repainted with zinc epoxy to protect and preserve it. New plumbing was installed and the interior of the fountain was filled with concrete to add strength. Epoxy glass cloth reinforcement was applied to the existing bowls.
The original fountain material was cast iron that had become badly pitted by the time of the renovation. It was estimated that the fountain had been in service over 50 years when finally renovated. It was the opinion of the sculptor that the renovation work had left the fountain in better condition then when it was cast.
But this once-proud neighborhood has fallen on hard times over the years. Crime, drugs and violence now rules. But hope yet remains to see this historic area restored to its former grandeur. Dealing with the challenges of today requires problem-solvers who bring different perspectives and are willing to take risks. Friends of Fountain Park (FoFP) emerged out of a pursuit to inspire and support the community, and a desire for actions to speak louder than words. Recently established in 2018, we’re an organization driven by progressive ideas, bold actions, and a strong foundation of support.
Contact us to learn more and get involved!
(Photo by Jason Gray)
(Images used on this website are courtesy of Photo Flood Saint Louis and the following photographers: Jason Gray, Dave Adams,
Ryan Stanley, Shelly Cendroski, and Vivian Nieusma; also, Mark Groth of http://www.stlouiscitytalk.com).
©2018, 2019 by Friends of Fountain Park.