The Esplanade Association, in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), has announced plans to restore the park’s historic Lotta Fountain beginning in 2016.
The fountain revitalization is part of the “Esplanade 2020” vision project and follows on recently completed capital projects, including the Eliot Memorial and Hatch Shell Oval lawn restoration.
For generations, the fountain provided a destination for dog owners visiting the Charles River Esplanade. It was a place where they could relax, socialize and allow their canine friends to enjoy a cool sip of water on hot days.
The 6-foot granite fountain by sculptor Katherine Lane Weems was constructed in 1939 in the name of entertainer and philanthropist Lotta Crabtree for the benefit of thirsty dogs. It was moved to its current location along the intersection of Back Street and Embankment Road 10 years later.
The fountain has a unique Art Deco design, including a fountain-fed pool for dogs and granite benches for relaxing. An ode to animal lovers, it was decorated with a statue of a dog, the face of a cat and etched drawings of a duck and rabbit.
Unfortunately, the years have taken a toll: the fountain no longer works and needs significant conservatorial and engineering repair. Restoring it will require repairing damage caused over the years by neglect, as well as updating the structure, so that the fountain and bubblers are again operative.
The work will begin with an update of a previous design study completed in 2003. The Esplanade Association anticipates a budget of $200,000 and $250,000 for the complete restoration of the fountain, including stone conservation; repair of water supply, basin pool and drainage; resetting benches; the re-grading and resetting of cobble walkway; installation of new landscape; the removal and transplant of four dogwoods; and the addition of permanent interpretive signage.
“The Esplanade Association is working with the DCR and hopes to have the fountain restoration completed by Fall 2016, so that it can once again serve as a point of pride for the park and a beloved gathering spot for pets and owners,” said Tani Marinovich, executive director of the Esplanade Association.