- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - An expert has started looking into whether an elaborate fountain donated by a co-founder of the Studebaker company that stood in a South Bend park decades ago can be brought back to life.

Parts making up the top two-thirds of the Studebaker Electric Fountain have been in storage at the Center for History since a family donated the pieces in 2009, the South Bend Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1FHt3KC ) Monday.

The surviving parts are in “very good conditions,” said Jeff Horvath, chairman of Wesco Fountains Inc., of North Venice, Florida. Horvath, who grew up in the South Bend area, inspected the parts last week.

Horvath is working on a report for the history museum on what it might cost to restore the fountain.

“I really believe this fountain can be brought back,” he said.

Brandon Anderson, the museum’s deputy executive director, is studying the possibility of restoring the fountain and placing it on public view again, although a location hasn’t been determined.

The fountain was donated to the city in 1906 John M. Studebaker, co-founder and president of the Studebaker wagon, carriage and automobile company. It illuminated by colored electric lights with figures of turtles and cherubs riding dolphins, each spurting streams of water.

Thousands of people attended its 1906 unveiling. It originally stood about 28 feet high, topped by a figure of a woman holding a small vase from which water spurted, and with the bottom concrete basin about 34 feet in diameter.

The fountain stood in Howard Park until 1941, when it was dismantled.

The top two-thirds of the fountain was displayed during the 1950s at a miniature golf course along U.S. 20 in what is now part of Mishawaka.

In about 1960, it was moved to the backyard of the home of John and Mary Seiler along the St. Joseph River near Osceola. The Seiler children then donated the pieces to the Center for History in 2009 after their parents died and the house was being sold.

Some parts of the fountain are still missing, but Anderson said the company that made the original still has the molds and could recast those parts.

Horvath, who has been working on fountains for more than 30 years, is hopeful about the Studebaker fountain’s future.

“We sometimes tear down things too quickly,” he said. “This has tremendous value to the community.”

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Information from: South Bend Tribune, https://www.southbendtribune.com


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