By Jeremy W. Steele
The Cincinnati Enquirer
If it wasn't for the Nov. 6, 1900, inscription on its side, it would have been easy Sunday to mistake Kilgour Fountain as a new addition to Hyde Park Square.
Fahri Ozdil, of Southgate, KY, and Soultana Kalligas, of Kenwood, dip their hands in the cool water at a gathering at Hyde Park Square to celebrate the restoration of the Kilgour Fountain Sunday afternoon.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
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The fountain, a gift to the people of Hyde Park by real-estate investor Charles Kilgour, is gleaming. There are no longer any signs of corrosion on the deep bronze-colored female figure atop it or the lion head waterspouts on its side, and the stonework that supports the towering fountain is free from signs of weathering.
What a difference a three-month, $171,000 restoration project makes.
"It was eating itself from the inside out," said Cincinnati Parks Board Director Willie Carden Jr., who compared the deterioration to similar problems with downtown's Tyler Davidson Fountain, which was refurbished in 2000.
Years of wear had taken their toll on the Hyde Park fountain, leading to plumbing failures, electrical problems, corrosion and a deteriorating concrete water basis.
The nonprofit Cincinnati Parks Foundation raised $221,000 from more than 490 donors to revamp the Kilgour Fountain. Another $75,000 was provided by the city for design work and new ramps onto the square for people with disabilities.
The parks foundation plans to create a $50,000 endowment with excess funds to maintain the fountain. The last major work to the Kilgour Fountain was in 1976.
"What (the endowment) does is prevents us from having to come back to the city in 20 years or coming back and having another campaign," said Augustine Long, vice president of the foundation and co-chairman of the fountain's fund-raising campaign.
But the fountain restoration is just a small piece of a larger project to redevelop the square. A $1.25 million streetscape project is replacing sidewalks, adding lighting and replacing trees in the business district.
The project should be completed in 45 days, said Jane Saunders, president of the Hyde Park Square Business Association and owner of Cloud 9.
"This is an awesome part of it because it's the centerpiece," Saunders said of the fountain project. "But it's part of something bigger."
"It is our responsibility to protect (the square) and to polish it up," Saunders said.
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