Des Moines, Iowa

Our history of the fountains in Des Moines, Iowa through the years has been difficult to track as we've sometimes thought there might be as many as four of them. However, we now know that there were actually only two of them and the good news is that they are both still around! We had to dig through a number of old pictures and news stories along with some new research from Brittany Luna to track down the movement of the two fountains given to Des Moines in 1906.

Much of the confusion resulted from news stories referencing the fountains in differing locations. We now believe that the fountains were originally located at Eighth and Cherry Streets and at Grand and Pennsylvania Avenues. Without going into details of other noted locations we are confident at the Eighth & Cherry fountain can be found in a triangular park at the intersection of John Lynde Road and Lincoln Place Drive. The fountain at Grand and Pennsylvania Avenues now stands at S. E. 10th & Scott Avenue is Sam Cohen Park

The city had second thoughts about both of the fountains in the years after they were installed. A brickway was added around the fountain on Grand & Pennsylvania Avenues in 1907, but in 1914 the fountain was removed and later relocated to Tenth and Scott Streets. From the looks of the first picture below, it looks as though the lions heads went missing and the1950 article below which had the second picture stated that the bronze plate had also been stolen.

At some point, the fountain did get new lions heads. In 1976 the fountain was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and in 1980 a new plaque was attached but it did not contain the original Ensign language as you can see below.

The Eighth & Cherry fountain also ran afoul of the city in 1915 even though the Humane Society objected to the city removing the fountain. However, a 1950 news article claims that it was eventually placed at the intersection of Southeast Sixth and Hartford Avenue. A 1964 article said that the fountain was eventually tipped over and a man by the name of Owen Crist persuaded the city to allow him to move it to his property at 3800 Park Avenue where they maintained a riding ring. Though the pipes rusted out and were disconnected, the article claimed that the fountain was still at 3800 Park Avenue in 1964.


A 2008 article in the Des Moines Register shows the fountain being moved to its present location in the Buckeye Fountain Garden in a triangular par at the intersection of John Lynde Road and Lincoln Place Drive. A subsequent article in 2013 claims that the fountain had water running for a while, but that a neighbor paid the water bill for a while, but the water stopped flowing when no one was willing to pay the high costs for the water. Instead the fountain was turned into a planter which is still maintained by the neighbors.

Click here for some of the articles used in researching these fountains.

For more on the National Humane Alliance Fountains click here.


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