After a decade, dry spell is over

The newly restored Robert Anderson Memorial Fountain flows during a rededication ceremony at the Anderson County Museum on Friday night. [Will Chandler Anderson Independent-Mail]
Some of those who donated money to the restoration of the Robert Anderson Memorial Fountain listen to speakers at the fountain's rededication at the Anderson County Museum on Friday night.
By Nicholas Charalambous
Anderson Independent-Mail


"Let it flow" was the slogan for the fund-raising campaign launched more than a year ago to restore the historic Robert Anderson Fountain. On Friday the community finally received its wish.

At the fountain's evening rededication, many of the more than 300 people who donated to the Anderson Independent-Mail's "Fix the Fountain" campaign, as well as dozens of city and county officials, shouted those words in unison to celebrate the first trickles of water to fall from the monument since it was removed from downtown nearly 10 years ago.

As the water overflowed the top bowl and began its graceful descent down toward the octagonal pool, the curtain of water sparkled magically in the spotlights, prompting oohs and aahs from the crowd.

"That old rusted relic of long ago is once again the talk of the town," said Bill Ducworth, a friend of the Anderson County Museum, who shared his own childhood memories. "I knew there was something special about that old thing."

Anderson County Museum Director Paula Reel, who first talked about restoring the monument, and Fred Foster, publisher of the Independent-Mail, both honored the community's effort to bring it back from the brink.

"This fountain was saved through this community's caring, and of that we can be proud," Mr. Foster said.

The ceremony had all the pomp and circumstance befitting a nearly century-old memorial to the Revolutionary War hero for whom the city and county are named, as well as the unprecedented modern day effort to save it, literally, from the trash heap.

The wrought-iron fountain, now listed on the Smithsonian Institution's list of historic outdoor sculptures, was considered the first to have underwater lighting.

Hacked to pieces by workers who dismantled the monument from a vagrant hangout behind the historic courthouse, it took conservator Ted Monnich more than a month to clean up the rusted relic, piece it back together and re-erect it in the courtyard of the new Anderson County Museum.

Three zinc cherubs, "waterboys," must still be reattached to the fountain once a replica is made of one of the figures that was lost.

"I always thought that when they took it down, it would come back," said Jerry Sloan, one of 13 descendants of Gen. Anderson present, and a member of the Anderson Civic League, which built the monument. "It was such a historical thing."

The Hanna and Westside High School quartets provided the musical backdrop to the festivities while students from the Hanna-Westside Extension Campus' culinary arts program provided the hors d'oeuvres.

There was even a large cake, whose frosting featured the image of the painting by local artist Scott Foster that was the fund-raising effort's emblem.

The turnout of more than 200 people on a chilly November night — with many people milling around the courtyard for a half-hour after the rededication swapping stories of childhood frolicks around it — was testament to what Anderson Mayor Richard Shirley referred to as the "outpouring of affection" for it.

Milton Antonak was one of the donors who was simply awestruck to see the fountain glistening in the moonlight again. He remembered running along the walls of the octagonal pool.

"It's beautiful," he said. "It's just great to see this thing here."