Washington County Economic Development Council Director of Redevelopment Shannon Castillo said Friday that a restarted fundraising campaign aims to restore the “Lady of the Fountain” to her former aquatic glory.
“I just finished a (Johnson City Development Authority) meeting this morning where it was approved for us to have a fundraiser to make her a fountain again, which is huge,” Castillo said. “We’re going to be selling a couple of things: personalized bricks and plaques.”
Sales of the $60 bricks and $500 plaques will foot the $7,500 needed for the liner, pumps and jets to rewater the bronze statue, a recast of the original Greek water carrier first installed at the divergence of Buffalo and Main streets in 1904.
The original zinc lady stood atop a 3-foot pedestal with included plumbing for drinking fountains above and basins below providing water for animals.
After 30 years of resolute sentry downtown, she was removed to make way for a road project and eventually found her way to a private Henderson, N.C., flower garden by way of the city landfill.
In the 1970s, renewed interest from Johnson City brought the Lady of the Fountain back home, where she was repaired and a copy of her was made out of bronze.
The bronze recast was place downtown and rededicated in 2011, but only as a dry statue.
“After we get the water flowing, she’ll be historically accurate again,” Castillo said. “With the redesign of Fountain Square and everything happening downtown, we thought the time was right.”
A few years ago, a similar brick-selling campaign failed to reach its goal and fell by the wayside, Castillo said.
The 82 bricks sold then will be made and incorporated into the latest improvements.
“When I got this job, I noticed there was an account, and asked myself ‘What is this for? Can we use this for anything?’ ” Castillo said. “So we only thought it was right to finally order bricks for those people who purchased them previously.”
The bricks have space on their faces for three lines of up to 20 characters.
Castillo said they can include the benefactor’s name, the names of loved ones or a memoriam.
Johnson City, currently refinishing Fountain Square, plans to lay generic pavers at the site, but will cut in the personalized bricks as they are made, she said.
“They take a few months to get made,” she said. “If we ordered them now, they wouldn’t be ready until November. But we will get them in there when they’re done.”
Castillo said she has already received some pledges for brick and plaques, and said she has given herself the tight deadline of raising all $7,500 in a month.
“We want to get Fountain Square finished as soon as possible to go along with all the other improvements going on downtown,” she said. “It will look better if it’s finished as a whole package.”
To purchase a brick or plaque, call the WCEDC at 202-3510.