Thursday, December 27, 2018

Venus Rising from Obscurity

Gossips has written many times about the fountain, surmounted by a statue of Venus rising from the sea, which originally graced the Public Square. The most recent post, published on December 22, reproduced an article that appeared in the Hudson Evening Register on September 11, 1883, describing the fountain in detail--both the statue and the pedestal on which it stood.

Today, HudsonValley360 has an article about the aspirations of two men, Charles Rogers and Garrett Roche, who "want to see the statue restored to the top of the fountain in the 7th Street Park": "Will Venus statue rise again?"

I have long been an advocate for the return of the fountain to the Public Square, but I won't be satisfied with just plunking our much abused and twice repaired Venus into the center of the 1974 "Inspiration Fountain." I want the entire fountain back the way it was in 1883--pedestal and all. I want to see the return of the fountain that was a source of civic pride in 1883, of which the Evening Register said, "to be fully appreciated, it must be seen when the water in full force is playing through the numerous jets and rising and falling in fantastic forms."  

The two efforts to repair the statue, after it was vandalized in 1978 and crashed into by a drunk driver in 1979 (both incidents occurred when the statue, no longer part of the fountain, stood independently in the northwest corner of Seventh Street Park), involved "filling all internal cavities with cement, plaster and epoxy and welding in heavy reinforcing rods." Because of these efforts, it is unlikely the statue could ever be restored to its original glory, with water spouting out of the statue itself, but the statue could be recast (this article explains how it could be done), and the pedestal could be re-created. The Evening Register article from September 11, 1883, provides the dimensions of the original fountain, and this photograph from the Evelyn and Robert Monthie Slide Collection at the Columbia County Historical Society provides photographic evidence of the details of the design.

Wouldn't it be lovely to have this elegant fountain back at the center of the Public Square?


  1. Do it properly or don’t do it at all. I’m right with you on this Carole.

  2. but it wouldn't look so elegant with a black fence surrounding it, which I'm afraid it will need to have or there will no doubt be trouble/vandalism.

    1. The black fence would be gone. It's only there because of the wiring of the present fountain. It wouldn't be needed if the old fountain were reproduced.

  3. What do we know about the origin of the black fences?

    I was told recently that it had nothing to do with the wiring, but with a soap sud fiasco.

    I heard that in 1978 or 1979 kids dumped a ton of soap into the unobstructed water fountain.

    This created an enormous amount of suds and big clean up job for the city.

    The city responded by building a fence around the fountain to limit access. The following year, the kids did it again and the city built the second fence.

    What's useful about this story is that it represents an antagonistic relationship between the city and it's residents. It explains the water fountain fences, and the threatening garbage cans.

    For this reason, it feels true to me.

    1. According to the city, the fences were built because of the wiring to the pump being high voltage. My brother was going to fix the fountain pump and wiring to make it so safe that people could actually wade in the fountain. Still waiting to hear from the city. P.S. My brother was going to pay for the repairs, so it's not a matter of funds.

    2. Thats exactly what i heard too Peter. Before the suds the fountain was open even with the lights in place.