PITTSBURG, Kan. — A fountain originally installed at the Pittsburg Public Library more than a century ago, but which has been at the Crawford County Historical Museum since the 1970s, has returned to the library.
CCHM Director Amanda Minton said Thursday that she was excited to help bring the fountain back to its original home.
“This is what we do,” Minton said. “We are the gatekeepers for Crawford County history. We help preserve and collect history.”
Constructed from Carthage stone and designed to complement the library building’s architecture, the fountain was first presented to the library in 1916. It formerly sat at the original entrance on 4th Street and was used as a drinking fountain, according to a library Facebook post, which also notes that because the fountain contains lead pipes it is no longer considered safe for use as a drinking fountain, but has been repurposed as a decorative water feature.
The fountain had to be removed in 1976 because of road construction, according to the post. While the fountain is now back at the library, it is on the opposite side of the building.
“Prior to the library renovation in 1997, there was limited space around the library building. Therefore, the library board donated the fountain to the Crawford County Historical Society for safekeeping and it has remained there for the last forty-four years,” it notes.
“A few years ago, the Pittsburg Public Library was the fortunate recipient of a large bequest by Yoshiko Iwabe Daniel. Her generosity allowed for many improvements to the library building and the services offered to the community. Most of the funds were placed in The Pittsburg Public Library Foundation for the long term good of the library. The Foundation Board and the Board of Trustees searched for a proper tribute to Daniel to acknowledge her generous gift to the library and the community.”
Denzel Davidson, longtime director of the Crawford County Historical Museum, was instrumental in preserving and maintaining the fountain for decades and making sure it wasn’t sold or auctioned off or forgotten about in storage, Minton said.
Coronavirus restrictions and social distancing requirements, as well as weather considerations, had to be taken into account in relocating the fountain, Minton said, which was eventually accomplished with help from two local companies, In The Garden and Home Center Construction.
“So that took a little bit more planning,” she said. But even though it took some work, Minton was glad to see the fountain brought back to the library.
“That’s where it was originally meant to be, that’s where it was, and it’s only appropriate that it returns and goes back to its original setting,” Minton said.
“The historic fountain now resides on the south side of the library building,” the library’s Facebook post notes. “It is located in the middle of a beautiful Japanese garden and perfectly complements the library building and the copper artwork designed by local artist Janet Lewis. We are thrilled to have it back at the Pittsburg Public Library.”
The fountain is not the only new outdoor ornamental addition to the library in recent months. Last fall, a dragon statue was placed at the library, not far from the fountain, in memory of the late beloved library patron Pleasant “PE” Davis, who passed away last September.
“It was just a special place to him,” Davis’s daughter Carolyn Kretzer said of the library in December. “When he would go up there it was never just to get a book, it was to visit with his friends too. When he passed away, it was a natural place for us to have a memorial for him.”
When the library was working with In The Garden to have the dragon statue memorial installed was also when it began taking the first significant steps towards bringing back the fountain, Library Director Bev Clarkson said, although doing so had long been a goal for the library.
“Everybody here at the library always thought it would be nice to bring it back,” Clarkson said. “It’s kind of been the missing piece of the puzzle.”