Russell Alger Memorial Fountain

The attractive fountain standing in Grand Circus Park, with a beautiful classical statue of a woman, is a memorial piece for Russell Alexander Alger.

Russell Alexander Alger, born on February 27, 1836, was a notable official who served in war, and an entrepreneur in the lumber business. He was a member of the Union Army who served with General Phil Sheridan. He fought in more than 60 battles and was later on promoted to the rank of brigadier general.

After the war, he moved to Detroit and ventured in the business of lumber. Starting from being a wholesaler, he established a firm which eventually controlled more than 100,000 acres of timber. He was also involved in the development of narrow gauge rail lines needed for the smooth transfer of cut logs. His venture in the business was very successful and with his wealth, he joined in financing the Michigan Republican Party. In 1884, he was elected as governor. In 1895, he was picked out by President McKinley to serve as Secretary of War during America’s feud with Spain.  Alger was the one responsible for sending US troops to Cuba, Philippines and Puerto Rico after Spain surrendered. But because of his poor financial management, he got replaced as Secretary of the department in 1899. Three years after, he was then appointed by the state legislature to the US state where he served until he died in 1907.

Standing near the intersection of Woodward Avenue and East Adams, the fountain in his name commemorates all of what he has accomplished and contributed to the city. It was designed by Daniel Chester French, one of the leading sculptors at the time. The fountain features Alger surrounded by laurel with a classical statue depicting a woman. With her right breast bared, wearing a crown of laurel, holding both a sword and a shield in her left hand and firmly raising her right hand as a sign of greeting, the statue represents the State of Michigan which Russell Alger served for more than two decades.

Russell Alger Memorial Fountain, made of bronze and granite, was completely installed in 1921 and was restored in 1997.

Aside from the fountain at Grand Circus Park, Alger has several other legacies under his name. Another monument of Russell Alger stands at the grounds of William G. Mather Building in Munising, Michigan. It was designed and sculpted by Carlo Romanelli. The monument with a bronze bust of Alger escalated on a stone pedestal was erected in June 1901. There is also the camp Russell A. Alger which was established in May 1898. It was located at a farm called Woodburn Manor and served as training ground for 23,000 men for service in the war between Spain and America. Alger County and Alger Michigan are both named after him. Alger County is a province in Michigan while Alger, Michigan is a small community to be found in the lower peninsula of the state. It was named after him as recognition for his contributions on the lumbering and railroad operations in the area.