Temperance Fountain

Temperance Fountain, Washington DC, public art

Public Art : Temperance Fountain

Sculptor: ©

Description: The Temperance fountain was erected to encourage people to quench their thirst with ice cold water rather than alcohol.The stone fountain consists of four columns that support a canopy. Each side of the canopy have the words "Faith," "Hope," "Charity," and "Temperance" chiseled. Perched on top of the canopy is a life sized bronze heron, a symbol of purity over alcohol. The centerpiece consists of a pair of entwined mean looking heraldic dolphins.

The icy water would flow from the dolphin's snout and people would drink from a brass cup that was attached to the fountain . The fountain also had troughs for the horses , that were filled from the overflow (they have long gone). The cold water came from a reservoir underneath the base that had to be constantly filled with ice. That novelty soon wore off and the city disconnected the supply pipes.

Date Unveiled: 1884

Donated By : Henry D. Cogswell, a dentist from San Francisco.


Trivia : The Temperance Fountain is known as "the city's ugliest statue".

The fountain so so disliked that in April 1945, Senator Sheridan Downey of California introduced a Senate resolution to remove the fountain, but, thanks to World War II, Congress ignored the resolution and it is still standing!

If you think it is hideous there are two more, one in Tompkins Square Park New York City, and the other Rockville, Connecticut. There were several others in  Buffalo, Rochester, Boston Common,Fall River, Massachusetts, Pacific Grove, California, and San Francisco but someone had the good sense to tear them down.

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