By Rick Palsgrove
Momentum is building for the restoration of the historic stone fountain in the front lawn of Groveport Elementary.
The 92-year-old fountain has had periods when it operated nicely with water gently cascading down its stone pillars and other times when it has been dry after it developed leaks. Currently the fountain is dry and in need of repairs again. Groveport Elementary Student Council is working to restore the fountain to its former glory.
Members of Groveport Elementary Student Council and their teacher advisors – Carole McGonigal and Stephanie Escue – attended the May 17 Groveport City Council meeting to inform city officials about the fountain project.
The students hope to have the fountain operational by the beginning of next school year and they estimate it will cost about $8,000 to fix the fountain. They said $1,300 has been raised so far and a community committee has formed to help the students raise more funding. The student council also applied for a $5,000 grant from the city of Groveport to help fund fountain repairs. They said if the fountain repairs cost less than the amount of money raised, the students would use the extra funds to help beautify areas in Groveport.
“Groveport City Council supports awarding some amount of funding, via a Community Grant, toward the fountain restoration project,” said Groveport City Administrator B.J. King. “Council decided to wait and see how much the Groveport Elementary Student Council raises before determining how much to award toward the project. We will work with the student council to track their fundraising progress.”
At the May 17 council meeting, Councilwoman Becky Hutson gave the students an envelope with her own personal donation toward the project.
Councilman Scott Lockett asked those at the council meeting to raise their hand if they attended Groveport Elementary and many hands went up.
“We like that building, too,” Lockett told the student council members. “We are glad you are doing what you are doing.”
Escue said currently the water pump is not in the fountain.
“The pump does work, however the fountain leaks,” said Escue. “From what we have been told, the fountain has not been on and working for approximately six years.”
The fountain has been repaired several times in the past, most recently in 2007 thanks to $3,500 in funding from the Groveport Heritage and Preservation Society.
“The students are very excited to get the fountain working once again,” said Escue. “The staff would love to see it working again. I think the school’s front lawn makes the school unique and welcoming. I have heard stories about social community gatherings taking place around the fountain in years past and I would love to see that happen again.”
The fountain is believed to have been constructed around 1929. It was given to the Groveport Madison school district by the first four graduating classes (1925, 1926, 1927, and 1928) to graduate from Groveport High School (now Groveport Elementary). The three story red brick Groveport School, located at 715 Main St., was built in 1923 and first opened for classes in 1924-25. The school housed all 12 grades for many years.
The oval shaped fountain is 17 feet wide and 13 1/2 feet across at its exterior points. It is less than a yard deep at its deepest point, though, when operating, the water level is kept much lower. It is made of limestone and shale with four stone pillars rising from its center.
The four pillars represent the four graduating classes who donated the fountain and their year of graduation is etched into the base of the pillars along with the words, “A memorial of gratitude from the first four classes to graduate from the Groveport Madison High School.”
The fountain’s stones are a symbol of sturdy strength and the foundation of knowledge. Its waters represent life itself and the journeys we all undertake as we flow through life. The fountain reminds us of simple truths in words that are etched into the fountain’s stone to use as guideposts in life – “Know Thyself” and “Knowledge is Power.”