Preserving a Landmark

Madison's' Broadway Fountain has
a unique but little known history

City officials pursue options or repairs

By Ruth Wright
Staff Writer

MADISON, Ind. (December 2003) – Jodie O’Kelly, 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 O’Kelly found the location at 404 Broadway St. so appealing. “I’m thrilled being next to the fountain. It represents why I came here – the history and beauty,” said O’Kelly, who moved to Madison from Oakridge, Ore., last spring.
O’Kelly is not alone in her admiration of one of Madison’s 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 century.

Broadway Fountain1

Photo by Don Ward

The 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 country’s major foundries. The fountain originally appeared in the company’s catalog, labeled simply “No. 5.” It was offered for $2,500.
Some have suggested that Andre’s 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 Madison’s 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 closed.
“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.

Broadway Fountain plaque

Photo by Don Ward

The 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.
Savannah’s fountain can be found in the southern city’s popular Forsyth Park, where it was placed in 1858. It is said to be the focal point of the park, the largest of Savannah’s 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.
Poughkeepsie’s fountain, known as the Soldiers Memorial Fountain, is located in the city’s Eastman Park and was dedicated on July 4, 1870, in memory of soldiers who died in the Civil War.

Broadway Fountain triton

Photo by Don Ward

A triton on the
Broadway Fountain.

The Cuzco, Peru, fountain, known as the Plaza Fountain, sits in the city’s central square directly in front of the Cathedral of Cuzco and is a popular gathering spot for tourists.
Madison’s 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 maiden’s 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 fountain’s 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 city’s special projects administrator, visited Karkadoulias’ Cincinnati studio with a group from Madison. The visitors witnessed the artist’s skill first-hand.
Bentz said Karkadoulias recommended bronze for the re-casting of the fountain because, unlike iron, it doesn’t rust. “We kind of wanted to establish something that would be here for a long time,” Bentz said.
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 fountain’s original iron pieces that were in better condition. The total cost of the project was $117,200.


1876 Fountain in Agricultural Nave of the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

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. 7.

1976 Eleftherios Karkadoulias hired to re-cast fountain in bronze.
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. “It’s 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 Madison’s most remarkable monuments. “It’s 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. “It’s nothing to the magnitude of what was done in the 70s,” said Huntington, “but it’s 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 department’s 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 husband’s bronze art company in Cincinnati, responded promptly by letter, expressing her desire to assist with the fountain’s 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 protective coating.
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 available.
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.



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