A new fountain has been placed in Grand Island’s Pioneer Park.
The replica of the original Three Graces Fountain from 1907 was placed Thursday, with work to continue through the summer.
The project that had left a muddy pit in the middle of the park for the last few months has been years in the making, said Don Deitemeyer, a Hall County Historical Society board member.
“Lady Ermintrude has been missing from the park for 70 years, and now she’s come back, and the Three Graces,” Deitemeyer said.
The original fountain was placed on July 4, 1907, by the Womens Club to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the settlers arriving in Grand Island.
“The Three Graces were based on Greek goddesses, but this is the version of the Three Graces based on agriculture,” said Michelle Setlik, project manager. “They represent Ceres, which is cereal or grain, Pomona, which is fruit, and Flora, which is flowers.”
The statue over the base of the Three Graces is Lady Ermintrude, a common feature of fountains from the time.
The original fountain was destroyed in 1950 by vandals on Halloween.
It could only be used as a planter after the destruction.
“They filled the fountain with dirt and it had petunias in it,” Deitemeyer said.
It was later replaced with a 20,000-pound, 17-foot-tall concrete fountain.
In 2014, the city contacted the Historical Society about replacing that deteriorating fountain.
“The fountain had been leaking so badly someone actually got hurt here,” Deitemeyer said. “That concrete had 550 spraying jets. It was too much for this pool.”
The new fountain is a replica of the 1907 original, made from the original foundry molds, with the original cast iron surround ring.
Some changes have been made to the fountain at request of the city.
“It had a mask of Pan, the god of the wild,” Deitemeyer said. “It had horns. He was a fertility god! We were looking at something a little calmer, like maybe Neptune.”
The fountain was bought more than a year ago and kept at Stuhr Museum on display.
Efforts to place the fountain fell behind due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Historical Society had expected to complete the project in the spring, but now it will be done by Labor Day, with a dedication next year.
“We’ve had some wonderful donors to the project,” Deitemeyer said. “We’re anxious to get it going.”
The project has raised $105,000. More is needed for an adjoining flagpole and other features.
“We want to enhance the park,” he said. “As part of this project, we put around LEDs to bring more light into the park.”
With the fountain returned, all that needs to be done is the concrete pour for the pool. It will be activated after that, Deitemeyer said.
“It will be 10 inches of water,” he said. “They didn’t have lights in the pool in 1907, so we got four antique lights to go right around the park here.”
John Collins, Grand Island public works director, said the new fountain was needed.
“The water’s rather stagnant there and the water feature along with the aeration units they’re going to put in there should churn the water enough so all the suspended solids can get taken care of,” Collins said. “It’s decorative, but it also helps to freshen up that water.”
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.