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The Broadway Fountain: Unique Combination of Art and History

The Broadway Fountain: Unique Combination of Art and History

The wonderful ornate fountain at Broadway, located at the heart of Third and Main Street, is one of the four remaining unique creations in the whole universe. The unique piece of historical artwork, which has been a landmark of Madison City for over the past 100 years, stands on a half-acre area in downtown Madison, Indiana. Jane, Kirtland, and the company were the people behind the creation of this fountain in 1876. They took the iron cast for displaying exposition in Philadelphia Centennial. In this regard, current paper seeks to explore the architectural background of this unique and amazing artwork development. In addition, the paper will, in brief, outline the current importance of the Broadway Fountain to the local community and other interested stakeholders.

A sculptor from France called Andre Victor designed the fountain using the Janes, Kirtland common catalogue, known as Model Five. It is a very huge fountain of 35 feet six inches wide with well decorated tiered three basins summing to 26 feet six inches. The fountains’ cartouches have the Indian Order of Odd Fellows symbol made up of trio-interconnections adorned to each octagonal base of the fountain. The fountain has four equally placed tritons that surround its base. Each of these tritons holds a shell horn that continuously spouts out water. In addition, the fountain has a classically robed figure of a woman holding the rod at the highest of the three bases (Coons 2007).

Originally, Philadelphia exhibited the Fountain in 1886 before Independent Order of Odd Fellows presented it to the city. During those days, the masterpiece artwork was cast in iron. In 1908, a plan to redesign the city was issued. One of proposed changes was the paramount requirements to equip the sculpture with electrical apparatus that would project a spectrum of blending colors onto the water that was trickling from the four spouts. In response, another sculptor named Felix Peano complied and redesignd the three panels and the eagle finial. Felix also engraved the words “Broadway Fountain for the people”on the frieze just above its column.  In 1976, in celebration of the Madison people, the residence assisted in recasting the artwork into pure bronze. The spectacular fountain contributes much to the relaxing atmosphere in the downtown of Madison. The fountain glows at night from the lightings of the Madison Park and the city authorities have put some benches at the place (Avery 67).

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Historically, the fountain is very valuable to the people of Madison, Indiana. Consequently, the citizens of Madison have saved it from a set of desecration plots. The first attempt to destroy the fountain was in 1949 after the end of World War II when the opted mayor ordered to replace it with a small imitation of the Statue of Liberty. The mayor supported his decision claiming that the fountain was obsolete and was not repairable. Secondly, the mayor claimed that he wanted to save the city from wartime encroachments and incorporate a closed-off plaza street in Madison. However, the people of Madison contributed some money, which was  enough to fund the cost of repairs. The people of the Valley City faced the same problem again in 1976 when the mayor of Madison wanted to pluck the fountain off the city because it was beyond repair (Becker 150).

The second botched attempt was in 1961 when a renowned Architect called Paderewski C. J. designed an excellent strategy to destroy the fountain, which was disguised under a new city plan and presented it to the city council. In his plan of rebranding Madison plaza, he wanted to uproot the fountain from its location. In support of the removal of the sculpture from its area, he said that the fountain had no historical significance to the city. After the removal of the fountain, he proposed to replace it with deciduous trees that had to surround the perimeter of the park instead of the old palms. Other things to be included were a sset of flags, furnished with resting benches and underneath grass, a brand new communication booth, and the colored pavement. In addition, to supplement the new image of the street, those who own houses and buildings along Madison had to repaint their veneers to make a blend with the image of the city and make Paderewski’s plan very effective. However, as the city authorities revealed his mischief regarding the destruction of the fountain, they rejected his horrendous proposal (Jarves 261).

Since the mayor has focused on removing the fountain and not its maintenance, the fountain was at risk again. The mayor stated that the repairing of the fountain would be very expensive for the city and, moreover, was not necessary at all as soon as the sculpture had outlived its useful life. Consequently, a local banker by the name Philip W. McCauley spearheaded a fundraising to cater for the ornament repair costs. The citizens managed to raise a total amount of $0.18M for restoration of the magnificent fountain. People reopened the ornament in 1986 after recasting, which had to enable the fountain to withstand acidic rain erosions and other corrosive atmospheric chemicals that might destroy it (Becker 156).

   

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During the American bicentennial celebrations all over the country, the council authorities of Madison hired Cincinnati sculpture Eleftherios Karkdoulias to implement the reconstruction of the fountain, a process that took nearly three years. Eleftherios dismantled the entire sculpture and then transported all the materials to his work studio. At his Cincinnati studio, he managed to create molds of wax and rebuilt the giant fountain in bronze. The reasoning that it will provide the fountain with longer life duration as it would withstand rain and air chemicals propelled the use of bronze, which is a sturdier metal. Eleftherios left a stone plinth that had been supporting one of tritons figures as the only remaining original material, since Jane constructed the fountain.

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