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Watertown’s Public Square fountain will undergo repairs

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A constant in the center of downtown since 1870, the Public Square fountain will be gone for some time this summer.

The fountain, located on the west side of Public Square’s grassy median, will be dismantled this summer for a complete restoration project, the first in many years.

The project is part of the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative funding awarded seven years ago.

The city set aside $55,000 in DRI funds to complete repairs to the fountain, surrounded by a wrought-iron fence. But that was before Crawford & Stearns Architect and Preservation Planners completed an inspection of the fountain last summer that found much more work needs to be done.

The fountain’s iron works will be dismantled, sent off for complete restoration and brought back once the redo is completed, senior planner Jennifer Voss said.

The iron work will be sandblasted and repaired off site, she said.

“It’ll be gone for a period of time this summer,” she said.

Bids will be going out within a month to find a company to complete the restoration.

Michael A. Lumbis, the city’s planning and community renewal director, said the gravity-fed fountain has a long history beginning with an earlier fountain design that caused a flap.

The fountain in the middle of the Square was the brainchild of a local councilman.

Local newspaper editor Benjamin Cory paid for its installation.

But some people complained it was a waste of money, Lumbis said. They dubbed it “Cory’s punch bowl, a reference to its masonry basin.

In 1870, a more elaborate fountain was erected on the site that still stands today. The fountain was manufactured by the Wood & Perot Foundry in Philadelphia, Pa.

It might be the only cast iron fountain like it that’s still in existence in the state.

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