Many area residents remember the old fountain that used to sit in front of old City Hall, which now sits in Gansevoort Park in front of the Rome Historical Society.
But perhaps not so many residents remember another historical fountain, titled “Out in the Rain,” that used to sit in front of the old YMCA on West Liberty Street.
That charming old fountain, featuring a little boy and girl under an umbrella, is now sheltered inside the Rome Historical Society.
It was purchased by Rome’s Dr. Wiley J. P. Kingsley, at the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, the first official World’s Fair in the United States.
The event was held in Philadelphia from May 10 to Nov. 10, 1876, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in
According to Wikipedia, nearly 10 million visitors attended the exhibition and 37 countries participated in it. “The Exposition was designed to show the world the United States’ industrial and innovative prowess,” according to Wikipedia.
“Bells rang all over Philadelphia to signal the Centennial’s opening. The opening ceremony was attended by U.S. President Ulysses Grant and his wife,” the Wikipedia account added.
Visitors marveled at all kinds of new machinery, as well as new foods like bananas, popcorn and Heinz ketchup -- and new works of art.
The right arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty were displayed. For 50 cents, visitors could climb a ladder to the balcony. The money raised was used to fund the statue’s pedestal.
Decorative fountains were on display in several areas of the exhibition.
Dr. Kingsley purchased the “Out in the Rain” sculpture at the exhibition, and had it placed in the yard of his home on Liberty Street.
According to a story in the publication “Gardening in America,” copies of the “Out in the Rain” fountain sold for $125 by 1904. Therefore, “its popularity was limited to upper middle-class and wealthy homeowners.”
The Victorian sculpture is listed in the book “Zinc Sculpture in America 1850-1950,” by Carol A. Grissom.
The following information is taken from a speech, on file at the Rome Historical Society, by Bruce Treible, who later purchased the fountain and donated it to the society:
The Kingsley home, and the fountain, were eventually taken over by the
Women’s Community Center, also called the Woman’s Club.
In 1968, the center was demolished to make way for the construction of Fort Stanwix National Monument. The fountain was moved to the Family Y’s new building, at 301 W. Bloomfield St. There it sat, in storage, for 10 years, until a 1980 yard sale at the Y.
“It was in deplorable condition,” Treible remembered, “with a gaping hole in the front, hands missing and the umbrella in poor shape.”
He said Robert Lake, a former Revere Brass & Copper vice president, had an analysis done of the fountain’s metal. It was found to be 96% zinc, 2.5% lead, %1 tin and about one-tenth of a percent copper.
James D. McDermid, an art and sculpting teacher at Munson-Williams-Proctor museum in Utica, repaired the sculpture at his 318 N. George St. studio. Arthur Peel of the Revere Research Laboratory located some thermo bond alloy with which to repair the fountain.
Layers of paint had to be painstakingly removed first. And the hole had to be patched and the hands restored.
Treible, of 1011 N. George St. had bought the fountain for about $1, according to a story in the Daily Sentinel.
The sculpture stands two-and-a half to three feet tall, and weighs about 100 pounds. Water flowed from the tip of the umbrella, so it looked like the
children were out in the rain.
Treible had gone to the Y for a workout when he saw the sculpture at the yard sale and came home and told his wife about it. His wife remembered the fountain from the Women’s Community Center.
“They bought the statue for about $1, and offered it to the historical society on the condition that it be restored,” society Vice President Parker Scripture told the Sentinel.
Edward Evans, a member of the society’s board of trustees, donated the funds for the fountain’s restoration.
The lovely old fountain now sits in a niche in the auditorium of the Rome Historical Society.
This column was written for the Rome Historical Society by Chip Twellman Haley, retired Daily Sentinel news editor. Comments, old photos, suggestions for future columns or guest columns may be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Copies of the book “Rome Through Our History,” a collection of some of Haley’s columns, may be purchased at the Rome Historical Society.
The Rome Historical Society, 200 Church St., is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Go online at www.romehistoricalsociety.org, visit their Facebook page, or call 336-5870 for more information.