Boulder Lions Club Fountain

By Wally Gobetz, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Link

Boulder Lions Club Fountain

Among visitors and shoppers of Pearl St. Mall in Boulder, Colorado, there is a popular spot that serves as a centerpiece and a gathering point. People who are waiting for their pals, or shoppers who want to take a break and watch other mall-goers pass by take comfort in the plaza’s “sense of place” – the Boulder Lions Club Fountain.

Built in 1935, the Boulder Lions Club Fountain is an art-deco style fountain that stands midway the Boulder County Court House’s plaza and the four-block pedestrian mall. The fountain visually connects the mall and the plaza, which are two separate locations sharing compatibility when it comes to public access. Sitting by the place of the fountain, you would see a streak of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century storefronts lining a busy east-west pedestrian street on one side, while on the other, a stately art Deco courthouse.

In terms of architecture, the Lions Club Fountain appears to be a smaller, human scale of the terraced architectural style of the court house. It is a white, circular, terra cotta water feature that is surrounded by abundant and blossoming gardens, irregular lawns and brick-paved walkways.

However, the fountain present now in the plaza is not the same fountain that was there decades ago. The original fountain, with its popularity, got challenged with all kinds of maintenance problems, safety troubles and vandalism. The gleaming white finish of its terra cotta blocks vanished and was replaced with what seemed to be the effects of continuing winters. The interior structure of the fountain deteriorated and some of the blocks shifted. Also, because of the several repair jobs that have been done to its spray bars, the fountain’s original water effects changed. Due to all these, Lions Club Fountain completely stopped from functioning by the 1980s. The beautiful centerpiece of the plaza went down to being a mere planter.

Efforts to restore the fountain started in 1996. The Boulder County applied for a State Historical Fund amounting to $35,000. This kind of fund is normally intended for the rehabilitation of buildings only. In other words, fountains and sculptures are excluded. But because of the historical and architectural significance of the fountain as a Boulder landmark, the leaders of the restoration project decided to include the Lions Club Fountain. For that, an extra $1,500 was added to the fund.

The fountain was redesigned by Glen Huntington. He was the same artist who designed the replacement of the county court house that burned down in 1932. The restoration project started with the removal of the fountain’s terra cotta blocks. Each piece was then numbered, measured and drawn so that the structure could be reassembled once the preservation work was through. The blocks which could not be repaired anymore were replaced with new blocks. These blocks were produced in Ohio according to historic documentation as well as measurements and drawings submitted by the architects. Old photographs guided the restoration team in replicating the spray bars of the fountain to maintain its original spray pattern.

Two years after the renovation, in 1998, the Lions Club Fountain was once again attracting visitors from the mall, courthouse and surrounding places.