It’s still there, on the Market Street median, set back slightly from the Water Street intersection. It’s clearly been a long, long time, though, since any water flowed through this particular fountain.
Officially labeled the “Anti-Germ Individual Cup Fountain,” the cast-iron structure dates from 1915. According to architectural historian Tony Wrenn, it was originally placed on the median at Market and North 14th streets (near New Hanover High School), but was moved to Water Street later on. (The questioner remembers it being at this latter location in the 1940s.)
Raised lettering on the east side proclaims that the fountain was presented to “the school children of Wilmington through the generosity of Miss Annie M. Dore, Arlington, Mass.”
A large, splayed scallop-shell trough, suitable for horses’ drinking, faces the river. To underline its purpose, a bas-relief of a horse appears directly above the trough. (Wrenn, in his 1984 architectural guide, reports that a bas-relief of a draped lady was on the opposite side of the fountain. This, apparently, was removed in the ensuing years.)
Smaller cast-iron troughs are placed lower on the cast-iron column, just above the base on its north and south sides, at a height suitable for dogs or other small animals. Well above these are two metal lions’ heads camouflaging two spigots. According to Wrenn, paper cups were once available from a dispenser in the water trough, which could then presumably be filled from the spigots (hence the “Anti-Germ” business).
The fountain is one of a number of cast-iron public fountains and horse troughs that used to be scattered around downtown Wilmington.Two others, now purely decorative, stand in the median on South Third Street near Orange and Ann streets. According to Wrenn, these two date from around 1880.
Date posted: December 8, 2010
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