By Donna Whitbeck
This past spring, the Ouleout Valley Cemetery Board decided that it is time for a full restoration of the historic fountain, as it will soon deteriorate beyond repair.
The fountain was purchased in 1884 by Erastus Edgerton, one of the major founders of the Cemetery, and installed in 1895. It runs from dawn to dusk every day, and has endured over 125 years of rain, ice, and snow, but along with its plumbing and foundation, it is in desperate need of repair.
Cemetery Board member Jeff McCormack was able to trace the history of the fountain back to the maker, the J.W. Fiske Company of New York City. The Fiske Company, a prominent design firm and ironworks, also made a “sister” fountain which was displayed at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. That fountain now resides in St. Joseph, Michigan.
The Fiske Company went out of business in the 1990s. But luckily, many of the original molds were purchased by the Robinson Iron Corporation in Alabama. They were more than happy to help the Cemetery Board put together a plan for restoration using the original molds.
According to McCormack, the original fountain had four cast iron urns and four gargoyles around the base, with two cherubs on the second level holding up the figure of a woman on the top of the fountain. The missing urns and gargoyles will be replaced, as will the statue of the woman. But the cherubs would weigh too much to be put back on the upper base. The statues of the muses Hope and Constance, set to either side of the central plinth, will be refurbished and returned to where they belong.
This is an ambitious project, but sorely needed. The total cost is estimated at $75,000, which will need to be raised through donations from all of us who enjoy this historic treasure.
Please send your donations to:
Ouleout Valley Cemetery
P.O. Box 62
Franklin, NY 13775
or visit our web page at OuleoutValleyCemetery.org to donate online.
As of November 2021, we have reached 18.5% of our fundraising goal.