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The History of the Square's Fountain

February 22, 2012 by Mark Cline

Lately, it seems like a new neighbor is moving into Fountain Square every week, and we've spent some fun afternoons getting to know these fine folks. But today we are going to take a look in the rearview mirror and talk about a few fixtures that helped put our little neighborhood on the map. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Fountains of the Square.

The first two things you should know about our grand water well residing at the convergence of Virginia Avenue, Shelby Street, and Prospect Street is that she has a name, Lady Spray, and she's actually the fourth fountain to preside over the Square.

The oldest member of the Fountain's family tree was the original Lady Spray and served as a practical drinking fountain for horses and humans alike. The female cast on high was in the likeness of Hebe, the Greek goddess of youth, which makes a little more sense as to why people would want to share with horses. Erected in 1889 and paid for by local merchants, the original Lady Spray lasted until the early 1920s when she was replayed by a second sprayer in 1924.

This time around, the effigy atop was a bronze sculpture titled "Pioneer Family." The family of four was created by Myra Reynolds Richards, an instructor at the John Herron Art Institute, and was created to honor former Indiana Congressman Ralph Hill.

The Pioneers had a 30-year run in Fountain Square before being relocated to Garfield Park in 1954. However, public outcry was quick and continuous until the bronze returned home in 1969, even getting an upgraded fountain, pedestal, and base in the early '80s. 

But the concrete basin quickly deteriorated, and by the mid '90s locals once again started pulling together to raise funds to return the Fountain as close to original as possible.

Fifteen years and $650,000 later, enough capital was raised to have molds made of a historic Hebe residing in upstate New York that was created by the same company behind the 1889 version.

Completed in 2009 and dedicated in March of 2010, a new-look Lady Spray once again adorns the top of our historic Fountain. As for the bronze "Pioneer Family" she replaced, they are being kept safe until a new home can be erected somewhere nearby on the newly completed Cultural Trail. 

When that will be, no one yet knows. But we can't wait; for when it comes to repping the Square the more the merrier!

image credit:Discover Fountain Square

 

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