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The fountain returns

Gale Rose
After a year, the Mosely Memorial Fountain has returned to its proper place in the center of the town square in St. John. The fountain was cleaned and powder coated while a new bowl was constructed. The fountain will be turned on once work on the pump is finished.

St. John has welcomed back an old friend. After being refurbished, the Moseley Memorial Fountain has retaken its place in the city square. The fountain sits in the middle of a new concrete bowl and awaits some work on a pump before water will flow again and make the fountain renovation complete, said Jamie Getty, St. John city clerk.

The fountain’s return was to be commemorated during this year’s annual Jubilee celebration, held on Memorial Day weekend every year in St. John, but as the 2020 event has been canceled due to coronavirus concerns, the fountain has quietly resumed it’s place of importance in the Brown Park.

The fountain was returned to its home on April 24 and was placed inside a new bowl, produced by Mansel Concrete and Construction.

Returning the fountain took a year after the city council decided the fountain needed a facelift and the bowl, that was leaking badly, needed to be replaced. The fountain was removed April 22, 2019 and shipped off to a company in Great Bend for its makeover. Jim and Cibyl Ronen made a donation to cover the cost of refurbishing the fountain.

As work started on the bowl, it became clear that it would be better, and cheaper, to have a local contractor build a new bowl out of concrete.

At Great Bend, the fountain was cleaned and received a new cream color coating that would also prevent rust to the metal fountain. Lights, pointing at the fountain, were also installed so it would look just like it used to be, Getty said.

Even though the fountain is not working yet, the response to it’s return has been positive.

“I think the community is excited to see it back in the park,” Getty said.

Plans are underway for an official dedication and will be announced at a later date.

In Cutright’s video, Jeff Williamson, St. John city superintendent, said the old plaster around the bowl had been leaking for a long time. It had been repaired with bandage after bandage but it was doing no good. When repair work was done on the bowl, chunks of plaster came off. The concrete was saturated and there were big cracks.

Installing a new bowl was considered but the only one that looked like the original was in Georgia with a lead time of six weeks and cost $225 per linear foot at a total cost of $13,000, not including installation. So Mansel was called on to construct a new bowl on site.

The history of the fountain started in 1912 when the Hesperian Club, a women’s organization, wanted to replace a small bandshell in the park with a fountain.

Judge Thomas Mosley liked to tend flowers in the park for people to enjoy plus he could enjoy the view from his office window that overlooked the south side of the park, said Cutright in his video.

A fundraiser for the fountain was underway when Mosley died on Sept. 5, 1912. Shortly after he died, the Hesperian Club decided to name the fountain Mosely Memorial Fountain in his honor.

The fundraiser was successful and the new fountain was unveiled on Friday, Oct. 17, 1913.

“Now, 106 years later, we have the responsibility and privilege to make ready our singular iconic landmark for the next 100 years,” Cutright said.