MADISON, Ind. (December 2003) Jodie OKelly, owner
of Cocoa Safari Chocolates, was pleased to find a spot last July for
her business across from the Broadway Fountain in downtown Madison,
Ind. A favorite of tourists, the fountain was sure to attract visitors
to her part of town. But there was another reason that OKelly
found the location at 404 Broadway St. so appealing. Im
thrilled being next to the fountain. It represents why I came here
the history and beauty, said OKelly, who moved
to Madison from Oakridge, Ore., last spring.
OKelly is not alone in her admiration of one of Madisons
most appealing attractions. Each year, thousands flock to the landmark
to enjoy its serene beauty and, in the summer, to cool off in the
shade of the park-like esplanade, where it has sat for more than a
by Don Ward
top of the Broadway Fountain.
The fountain was designed by J.P. Victor Andre, a French sculptor
employed by the Janes, Kirtland Iron Co. of Morrisianna, N.Y., (now
the Bronx). During its heyday, the company, which is credited with
the design, creation and placement of the Capital Dome in Washington,
D.C., was one of the countrys major foundries. The fountain
originally appeared in the companys catalog, labeled simply
No. 5. It was offered for $2,500.
Some have suggested that Andres neo-classical design was inspired
by the famous fountain in Place-de-la-Concord in Paris, or by a fountain
exhibited at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London in 1851. A substantial
size, the fountain is 26.6 feet high and 35.6 feet wide with two basins
and a reflecting pool. The top basin features a maiden; the second
basin features two large birds. The base of the fountain is surrounded
by four horn-blowing tritons. Several ornamental urns sit along the
top wall of the reflecting pool.
Although considered a local landmark, the fountain has not always
belonged in Madison. It first appeared in the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial
Exposition, where it was exhibited in the Agricultural Nave. The fountain
came to grace Madisons Broadway Street in 1886, thanks to an
organization known as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The Odd
Fellows purchased the fountain several years after the Exposition
There were four or five Odd Fellow Lodges in Madison at that
time, and they all pulled together and had it shipped (here),
said Paul Yount, a member of the only remaining Madison Odd Fellows
Lodge, No. 72. The lodge meets at 408 Mulberry St., the second-oldest
Odd Fellows building in the state, according to Yount.
A fraternal organization similar to the Freemasons, the Odd Fellows
traces its history back to 1745 when the first recorded lodge was
established in London, England. The Odd Fellows were said to have
formed groups in North America as early as 1819. A social society
with various rituals and degrees, the Odd Fellows basic tenant is
mutual assistance to members and the betterment of society.
Several symbols are representative of the organization. The most common
and well-known is an eye in the middle of a sun and three connected
links. The eye represents the all-knowing eye of the world, or eye
of God, as it is sometimes called. The three links represent
friendship, love and truth. This symbol appears on the base beneath
each triton on the fountain.
by Don Ward
plaque in the Broadway Fountain park.
According to newspaper clippings from that time period, the International
Order of Odd Fellows, Madison Lodge No. 72, purchased the fountain
as a gift for the city in August 1884 for $1,240. Broadway, West and
Main streets were each considered for placement of the fountain, and
after some deliberation, Broadway Street was chosen. An esplanade
was constructed in the middle of the street especially for the fountain.
The original fountain dedication ceremony was held on Sept. 28, 1886.
Several thousand attended the ceremony, according to newspaper reports.
Around the same time that the fountain appeared in Madison, four duplicate
fountains had been created by JKI Co. and shipped to various parts
of the United States and overseas. Still in existence today, the other
three fountains are located in Savannah, Ga., Poughkeepsie, N.Y.,
and Cuzco, Peru.
Savannahs fountain can be found in the southern citys
popular Forsyth Park, where it was placed in 1858. It is said to be
the focal point of the park, the largest of Savannahs 22 historic
squares, and has been featured in several movies filmed in the city
including, Forest Gump and Midnight in the Garden
of Good and Evil. The fountain was completely restored in 1988.
Poughkeepsies fountain, known as the Soldiers Memorial Fountain,
is located in the citys Eastman Park and was dedicated on July
4, 1870, in memory of soldiers who died in the Civil War.
by Don Ward
triton on the
The Cuzco, Peru, fountain, known as the Plaza Fountain, sits in the
citys central square directly in front of the Cathedral of Cuzco
and is a popular gathering spot for tourists.
Madisons fountain remained a popular monument in the city for
several decades. But in 1950, city officials and local residents became
concerned with the condition of the fountain and even considered tearing
it down. Originally made of ornamental cast iron, the fountain had
deteriorated from years of exposure to the elements and was near collapse.
To save the fountain, a group of community leaders, spearheaded by
the late Madison realtor Harry Lemen, formed a committee and raised
enough funds for its repair. Unfortunately, the result was temporary,
and by the mid-1970s, the fountain was again in disrepair. David Wells
of the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper reported on Aug. 8, 1980, that
Nearly 100 years of rain, snow and smog took its toll on the
cast iron, and by 1977, it had become a rust-encrusted relic with
broken plumbing that allowed only a trickle of water to flow from
the maidens vase.
Once again a committee was formed, and this time, a contractor was
chosen to completely re-cast the fountain. Madison Mayor Warren Rucker
signed a contract with Eleftherios Karkadoulias of Cincinnati on Oct.
11, 1976. Karkadoulias, a Greek sculptor, submitted the lowest bid
for the fountains restoration: $79,000.
The fountain was dismantled and transported in pieces to Karkadoulias
Cincinnati foundry. There, Karkadoulias employed what Hank Bentz of
Madison called the lost wax method. Bentz, then the citys
special projects administrator, visited Karkadoulias Cincinnati
studio with a group from Madison. The visitors witnessed the artists
Bentz said Karkadoulias recommended bronze for the re-casting of the
fountain because, unlike iron, it doesnt rust. We kind
of wanted to establish something that would be here for a long time,
Originally, Karkadoulias estimated about one year for the project.
Ultimately, it would take three years and more than $100,000 for the
sculptor to complete the fountain project. The job included recasting
the fountain in bronze, excavating and constructing a utility room
beneath the fountain, installing new wiring and plumbing, a new re-circulating
pump and a new concrete pool.
An Indiana Department of Natural Resources grant of $17,825 and an
Indiana Arts Commission grant for $5,000 were awarded to the project.
The rest, more than $100,000, was solicited through public donations
and fundraising events, including an auction of some of the fountains
original iron pieces that were in better condition. The total cost
of the project was $117,200.
Fountain in Agricultural Nave of the Philadelphia Centennial
1884 Fountain purchased by Independent Order of Odd Fellows,
Madison Lodge No. 72.
1886 Fountain brought to Madison and dedicated in a ceremony
on Sept. 28.
1950 Fountain repaired and re-dedicated in a ceremony on Oct.
1976 Eleftherios Karkadoulias hired to re-cast fountain in
1980 Fountain re-dedicated in a ceremony on Aug. 9.
Several Madison citizens, including Mayor Rucker, Phil McCauley and
Marge Cofield, were instrumental in seeing the project to its fruition,
according to Bentz. Its just another example of the community
of Madison pulling together for a very worthwhile project, Bentz
said. A second re-dedication ceremony was held Aug. 9, 1980.
Today, the fountain remains a one of Madisons most remarkable
monuments. Its one of the key centerpieces of our entire
community, said Madison Mayor Al Huntington.
And now, once again, the fountain is in need of some repair. Its
nothing to the magnitude of what was done in the 70s, said Huntington,
but its time to go back and do some maintenance.
While routine maintenance is performed by the Madison Parks Department,
maintenance and repair now needed on the fountain is beyond the departments
expertise, according to parks superintendent Dave Munier, and should
be addressed by professionals.
For advice on the project, Munier contacted Mercene Karkadoulias,
wife of the late Eleftherios Karkadoulias. Karkadoulias, who now runs
her husbands bronze art company in Cincinnati, responded promptly
by letter, expressing her desire to assist with the fountains
repair, said Munier.
No contract has yet been signed, but in her letter, Karkadoulias proposed
that her company completely clean the entire fountain and its base,
repair any hairline cracks or pin holes, and apply a specially formulated
Initially, Karkadoulias proposed dismantling the fountain again and
taking it to Cincinnati for the work. She later told Munier that the
work could be done on site. Munier said he hopes to arrange for the
project to be completed over the next three years as funds become
Given its unique history, Madison city officials say they remain committed
to saving the fountain for visitors and residents alike to enjoy for
many years to come. During the Christmas season, the fountain is decorated
in white lights, making it a unique and beautiful scene in the heart
of the city.