Rochester, NY Fountain

A story of redemption and renaissance.


Benny Oliver, Mayor Lovey Warren & Jack Walsh

Something very unique in the history of National Humane Alliance Fountains occurred on a brilliant fall day on September 28, 2019 at the City of Rochester Public Market when the city officially unveiled their "new" fountain, though maybe we should say "used". As you can see below from our earlier study, Rochester received one of the fountains and placed it in the Public Market in the days when most of the fruits, vegetables and other materials as well as customers arrived by horse. So a water to satiate those horses was a tremendous asset.

Rochester was originally offered a fountain in May, 1904 when Mr. Seaver, Secretary of the National Humane Alliance, visited the city and met with a delegation of city officials to determine a site. They narrowed their choices to the center of Andrews and Franklin Streets or the Douglass monument. However, it was the mayor who eventually proposed a site in the Public Market as being more suitable and in May, 1905 the Alliance confirmed the gift and the site at the Public Market. City Engineer Fisher planned the layout and the work done by the city in placing the fountain in the Public Market. Here's the Common Council record of his request for a resolution thanking the donor:

However as time went on, four wheeled motor vehicles replaced four legged animals and there didn't seem to be any need for a watering trough and it was removed - and lost to the ages as no one knows what became of it. A 2001 article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle raised the issue of the fate of the missing fountain, but it never was found!

Enter the Friends of the Public Market who became interested in the history of the market and the fountain and thought the history was important enough to have a "replica" constructed (see picture below) and placed in the Market. Somehow, it just wasn't the same and they started researching to see if there might be another fountain that someone would be willing to sell - and that's when this website came into play. Evan Lowenstein from Rochester contacted us - probably without a lot of hope - to see if we knew of any other town that might have a fountain for sale. We didn't, but we did know of a private owner who might, and that was Benny Oliveri in Binghamton. Learn more about Benny and the Binghamton fountain here. That contact worked out very well and following an appraisal and some negotiating, Rochester had its second fountain.

Watch for a video and more pictures soon!


Earlier Story & History

Rochester may be the only community to have a missing fountain - yet it has it's very own replica. Click on the picture for a larger view.

We want to thank Christine Ridarsky, City Historian & Historical Services Consultant for the Rochester Public Library for this tidbit of information:

"The original location of this fountain was the Rochester Public Market, and it actually remains there today, although in a different location and somewhat altered state. In her book on the history of this market, The Hands That Feed Us: 100 Years at the Rochester Public Market (City of Rochester, 2005), Nancy Rosin writes: 

"A large granite drinking fountain was presented to the City of Rochester by the National Humane Alliance of New York City. It was intended to honor the late Hermon Lee Ensign, briefly a Rochester resident, who made a fortune in the advertising world. Later in his life he became devoted to a cause that had captured the hearts  of many Rochesterians in the 1879s--working for the welfare of animals. The fountain was polished granite with a main basin about six feet in diameter. Water poured into the basin from the mouths of carved lions. A common cup was placed for people to use, while dogs and other small animals could drink from a number of small basins beneath. It was installed in an area where teams of horses could also stand about it and drink. In time this human and practical gift became the ornamental centerpiece of the new market." (p. 12)

She also provided some additional links to more pictures taken from the Albert R. Stone Collection at the Rochester Museum and Science center:

James Farr from the City of Rochester's Bureau of Recreation then confirmed that the original fountain is missing, but noted that there is still a fountain at the market, but it a a replica made by a local artist. He was kind enough to then take the picture that you see at the top of the article. If you look carefully, you can see the playful character of the sculptor with some of the "additions" that he added to the replica.

For more fountain pictures, click here. For a listing of all that have been discovered to date, click here.

Posted August 23, 2015 - Updated October 3, 2019

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