Charlotte, North Carolina

The City of Charlotte received its fountain in 1911 and according to news accounts, it was the last of the "expensive" fountains which we assume meant th rectangular type rather than the circular style. It was placed at the intersection of South Boulevard and East Morehead Street which was the only street within a mile deemed safe enough because of the streetscapes and traffic patterns.

The Charlotte Humane Association was responsible for acquiring the fountain and put on the dedication ceremony which was held at 12:45 PM to coincide with recess at a nearby grammar school so that the children could attend.

The concerns about the location of the fountain turned out to be correct as you can see from this 1941 newspaper article.

The good news is that the fountain still exists as reported by WBTV in Charlotte's Kristen Hampton in 2017:

If you've ever driven on Morehead Street near Uptown Charlotte, you've been right past it - and chances are you didn't notice.That's the same way bike messenger Bill Fehr describes it.

"I bet I've climbed that hill a thousand times and I've never noticed that before," he said.

Fehr sent WBTV an e-mail describing his first spotting of the giant granite drinking fountain built in 1911 for horses to quench their thirst.

Back in the early 20th Century, Charlotte wasn't yet bustling with cars. Horses were a major form of transportation, and horses have to drink.

A wealthy philanthropist Hermon Lee Ensign was also an animal advocate. In his will, he bequeathed more than $100,000 to build 100 animal drinking fountains all over the country.

One ended up in Charlotte where Morehead Street intersected with South Boulevard. But today it sits in the front of the American City Building closer to Church Street.

Janet Wilkins is the project manager for American City Business Journals. Her company found the fountain in disrepair in Elmwood Cemetery. Once Charlotte's population of more than 2,000 horses made way for cars, the piece of art wasn't so special anymore. The owners of ACBJ paid to have it repaired and moved back to prominence.

"We loved the idea of having our public art, which we are required to have, to be historical. Charlotte doesn't have much history left. So it was great to have this opportunity," Wilkins said.

Fehr dug up historical documents and newspaper articles - Wilkins has some too - all indicating the fountain was big news at the time. Once it became irrelevant, it could have been lost in the shadows of history. But it now sits for all to enjoy. And now all can know of the kind gesture that created it.

"This still being alive today is a really great thing and I wanted it to be shared," Fehr said. "I wanted people to have a chance to see it."

 

 

 

 

 

For more on the National Humane Alliance Fountains click here.

 

 


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