Nathaniel Wheeler Memorial, Then & Now -Bridgeport, CT
Located at the intersection of Fairfield and Park avenues, the fountain was erected in 1912–1913 by Nathaniel Wheeler’s children. Wheeler was a principal in Wheeler & Wilson, an early manufacturer of sewing machines, who moved his factory to Bridgeport in 1856, Wheeler had been active in many city affairs, including plans to beautify the city. The fountain was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 4, 1985.
Designed by John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum, the fountain consists of four elements: a central bronze mermaid rising out of a polished granite pool holding aloft a lamp surrounded by three unique granite watering troughs at the corners of the triangular intersections of Fairfield Avenue, John Street and Park Avenue. Automobiles were not as prevalent on Bridgeport streets as horses in 1912. The watering troughs quickly became obsolete. Today, the intersection is fairly treacherous, and there is no easy way to get from the sidewalk to the fountain in order to admire its elements, or to read Nathaniel Wheeler’s name at the base of the pool.
Borglum was an American sculptor born of Danish Mormon immigrants most widely known for the colossal sculpture Mount Rushmore National Memorial. He was also associated with various other public works of art, including Stone Mountain in Georgia, the statue of Union General Philip Sheridan in Washington, D.C., as well as a bust of Abraham Lincoln which was exhibited in the White House by Theodore Roosevelt and which is now held in the United States Capitol crypt in Washington, D.C.
The fountain underwent a $199,000 restoration in 2009–2010, in which vehicular damage was repaired and the flow of water was restored to the fountain. The water was not on when I visited the memorial in July, 2021.
Peter Evans CT Bridgeport Jul 27, 2021 Memorials
Location: Bridgeport, CT
Peter Evans Jul 27, 2021
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