Thursday, May 06, 1999

Fountain's fixing is uncertain

City landmark boarded up

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Plywood surrounds the Tyler Davidson Fountain.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        The Tyler Davidson Fountain, one of Cincinnati's most treasured landmarks, was turned off and boarded up Wednesday in preparation for its restoration.

        But it is not clear when it may be restored and turned back on, said Willie Carden Jr., superintendent of the city's facility management division.

        To the dismay of visitors to downtown's Fountain Square, city crews erected a makeshift wall around the base of the fountain Wednesday, leaving the Genius of Water to peer from above the plywood.

        That was necessary, officials said, to keep people from climbing into the fountain, possibly causing damage and even putting themselves at risk of injury.

        “It's just a shame it's come to this,” said Christianne Kelly, co-owner of the Perfume Counter in the Westin Hotel, across Fifth Street from the fountain. A plywood wall is not Cincinnati's best face for its visitors, she said.

        The fountain has been a landmark since 1871, providing a pleasing setting for many a photograph.

        Built in Germany, it was given to the city by Cincinnati merchant Henry Probasco as a memorial to his deceased brother-in-law, Tyler Davidson. Despite a restoration in the 1970s, the fountain has been showing its age.

        A June 1998 report revealed that its metal was corroding and its concrete deteriorating.

        City crews turned on the lower half of the fountain for the Findlay Market Parade on Opening Day. But further corrosion prompted Mr. Carden and City Manager John Shirey to order the fountain boarded up.

        There is no timeline for its restoration, Mr. Carden said, but he wants to get moving. Supporters hope to raise the needed money over the sum mer. The flow of cash and speed of restoration will determine when the plywood can come down.

        An effort launched by Fifth Third Bank last year raised more than $100,000 for the project. In April, the city announced the formation of the Tyler Davidson Committee. The group plans to raise $3 million — $2 million for the restoration and $1 million to cover future maintenance, said Charles D. Lindberg, chairman of the fountain committee.

        Mr. Lindberg hopes the work can begin this summer as the money begins to come in. He hopesthe restoration is completed by Jan. 1.


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