CHARLESTON -- For decades, the tree-themed historical water fountain that stood at the west entrance of the Charleston library quenched the thirst of locals on hot days.
But, the years eventually took their toll on the fountain and it simply ceased to function. Years went by and it sat unrepaired; that is until recently.
On Wednesday, city crews reinstalled the fully restored fountain in the same spot it has always stood, this time with new plumbing and a cleaned facade.
Quincy Combs, Charleston street supervisor, said when crews were working on repairing the stairs, he thought the fountain should be updated as well.
“I kind of remembered it when I was a kid, and I thought, well, it is just a shame that it is not working,” he said.
“It was such a neat piece. We thought it would be great if we could get it to work.”
The years had damaged the fountain. The sides of the fountain had been weathered. A crack had formed in the bowl of the fountain. And, the old plumbing running through it was unsalvageable. So, city crews with assistance from those at Adams Memorials went to work on restoring the piece.
Combs said it actually took the crews a while to figure out the plumbing and how to replicate it with new plumbing.
“It took me a little bit to even figure out how it worked because it was all plugged up and wasn't working right,” he said. “It took us a little while to look it over and get it all straightened out.”
Combs said working on the project was especially exciting for him.
“I love to help restore the history of Charleston,” Combs said. “In fact, I don't think we do enough of that.”
Combs said the fountain likely was installed soon after the library was finished in 1904, but the specific date is unknown. The 1,200 lbs. fountain with a dog bowl attached at the side was hand carved from a large chunk of limestone just south of the library at what once was the Charleston Monument Company owned by Alexander Briggs, a historic name in the city.
Briggs was a stonemason from the late 1800s who had a hand in building the Eastern Illinois State Normal School, which has since become known as Old Main on Eastern Illinois University’s campus.
Concrete still needs to be filled in around the fountain, but it is now operational after years spent offline. Combs said he expects that the work on the stairs and the fountain will be completed by the end of the week.