County restores pair of historic fountains

Dec. 07, 2012 @ 12:21 PM

Two cast iron fountains that used to sit in front of the Historic Union County Courthouse were shipped off for restoration earlier this week.

For years the fountains have sat in the basement of the courthouse until members of the county's Public Works Department removed them and sent them off to be restored.

"They had not been in use for many years but these were beautifully made forged cast iron drinking fountains that were placed probably sometime around the 1890s," Matthew Delk, assistant Union County Manager, said.

Thursday afternoon, he spoke a little with members of the Union County Historic Preservation Commission about the county's plans for the fountains.

"I was told that these were intended at the time for a source of available sanitary water that anyone could drink here in downtown Monroe," he said.

They got approval from the county manager for the restoration project and later sent them off. The original company that made the fountains has been out of business for many years. Another company bought the plans, models and casts for the fountains and will be able to restore them. The fountains were originally about 5 feet tall and had a high and low fountain. The high fountain appeared to be for people to use while the lower fountain appeared to be more of a trough that could be used for animals. When restored the Public Works Department will likely display them in certain areas, he said.

The fountains were sent to Alexander City, Ala., which is near Birmingham on Monday and will be worked on by Robertson Iron. It will take around 12 weeks for the fountains to be restored. In all, the restoration will cost $19,000, Ed Goscicki, Union County's Public Works director, said.

According to an entry from the book, "The Union County Courthouse," 1843-1981 by Wayne Durrill, in each corner of Monroe's Courthouse Square was a well and at the northeast and southwest corners of the square, the iron drinking fountains covered the wells. The entry was likely written around 1932 or 1933, Patricia Poland, who works in the Dickerson Genealogy and Local History Room at the Monroe Library, said in an e-mail.