By Beverley P. Reid, Historian
It is just an ordinary black, cast-iron fountain but it has quite a story. It begins at the end of the 19th. century. A ladies group known as “Women’s Christian Temperance Union” was organized to rid the Village of Lake Placid from the evils of drink. However, the odds were against them and it appeared they gave up on the gentlemen and decided to help the horses.
At that time there was an old wooden trough situated at the top of “Mill Hill” to refresh the beasts after their long haul up the hill from the area called Newman. These ladies decided in 1905, seeing they were not being very successful with closing the bars even though the village had been voted a Prohibition Town, to replace the trough with a fancy Horse Fountain. In September, 1906 the black, cast-iron fountain was presented to the Village people. It was noted that most of the Village attended the ceremony, (with the exception of the ones who were drinking elsewhere). Our famous James R. Day, chancellor of Syracuse University, officiated at the dedication with a rousing anti-rum speech. The water was turned on and the horses were supplied with ice cold mountain water from their fancy fountain.
There was another watering trough at the lower end of Newman at the corner of Hurley and then Railroad Street. It was not as fancy but certainly the water tasted just as good to the horses. In May, 1927 it was also was dismantled. Things were changing.
After several years of use as transportation, the horses were replaced with automobiles and the need for gas replaced the need for water. A service station was then built on the corner. The fountain had to be removed. It was placed in a corner of the village garage for several years and was destined for the “dump” until a gentleman by the name of Louis Berg asked if he could move it to his residence on Parkside Drive. Permission was granted and for many years the Fountain became a planter for beautiful flowers. (By this time most of the members of the WCTU had passed on or it might have been denied, due to the fact that Louis Berg also owned a Liquor Store on Main Street). In 1940 Upon Louis’s demise, his daughter, Joanna, returned it once again back to the Village.
This time it was moved to Village Electric Department property. At the Powerhouse it was restored as a water fountain by Roy Conoboy, Superintendent of the department. Louis had painted the fountain white while on Parkside Drive so Roy restored it to its original shiny black. There it stayed until 1966 when the Town had changed the Grand View Hill and added the big parking lot across from the Post Office. The parking lot was definitely an asset to the Main Street but it appeared to be missing something. After consulting with the Lake Placid Garden Club and Frank Politi of Adirondack Gardens, the plans were made to again utilize the “Horse Fountain” and it was on its way to a new destination.
Since 1966 the Fountain seems to have found a permanent home! It has been properly taken care of by the Village, Lake Placid Beautification, and Lake Placid Garden Club crews. The water
Is happily bubbling away while the beautiful flowers welcome visitors from far and wide. If it could talk, what stories it would tell.
Please join us Saturday, August 15th from 10am – 2pm as we host one of our anticipated yearly event, Heritage Day. Located at the History Museum, this family-friendly event will have something for everyone. The day will feature a silent auction, book sale, bake sale, flea market, live entertainment, children’s activities, and a BBQ hosted by the Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department.