The main section of the fountain is lifted off the base before it is placed on the truck for delivery to Alabama. Below, the base is cut with a torch to free it for removal. Bottom, the top of the fountain is removed.
Old Main Fountain removed for restoration
The Old Main Fountain at Shippensburg University is a campus
landmark that remains a favorite of students and alumni. It’s often
photographed and has long been a meeting place, but as of Jan. 30 you
won’t find it.
Early this morning, a crane hoisted the 115-year-old
fountain on to a flatbed truck as part of the project to restore it to its
original beauty. The intricate relief work on the basin and the urns were
carefully removed, placed into a crate and secured. In less than 24-hours, the now-in-pieces
fountain will be headed to Alexander City, Ala.
The fountain was dedicated in 1896 and was a gift from the
class that year. It has been undergoing regular painting and maintenance since
it was first installed, but now requires a more extensive work.
“There are parts
falling off and the basin is cracking and leaking,” said Bruce Herring,
assistant director for planning and engineering. He said the project is seen as
a restoration effort because the fountain sits in the historic district of
campus. “We did a condition evaluation and treatment proposal,” he said, adding
that the university also consulted the Pennsylvania Historic Museum Commission
regarding the restoration.
A team of companies will oversee the restoration with
Kreilick Conservation LLC of Orland, PA taking the lead. Herring said the
conservation company is partnering with Robinson Iron of Alabama and
Outerspaces, a Pennsylvania-based landscape architectural firm.
The first step in the restoration began Monday with the
removal of the fountain by Robinson Iron. Luke Robinson, sales manager and
grandson of the company’s founder, was on campus to oversee the disassembly. Piece
by piece, the molded cast iron fountain was taken down and the planters and
relief work on the basin was welded off.
As the small crew worked to secure the fountain, Robinson said
how impressed he was with the overall condition of the fountain. “It is in great
shape, for the most part. When we bring it back after restoration it will be
over 95 percent original,” Robinson said. “and that’s what you want in a
restoration of this type.”
Robinson credited the university maintenance crews for so
diligently caring for the fountain, but added that, at its age, it’s time to
have it thoroughly restored.
The fountain was commissioned from a 19th century New York
firm, J.W. Fiske. The company was well known for its ornate fountains and
sculptures but has long since gone out of business. Luke Robinson explained
that his grandfather, founder of Robinson Iron, purchased all of their
patterns, so restoration of the Old Main Fountain will be as close to the
original as possible.
While the fountain itself is in Alabama, work will be
completed on the basin. Outerspaces will remove the present basin, excavate the
area and reconstruct a new basin.
“The foundation of
the fountain is limestone. Each of those stones will be numbered and removed
while excavation of basin goes on. Then they will be put back in place,” said
Herring said the work that occurs in Alabama will make the
decorative relief work much more visible when the fountain is reinstalled.
The fountain should be back in its place of honor in front
of Old Main in early April in time for commencement with a rededication ceremony
set for Alumni Days in early June.