By DON STINE
One of New Jersey’s top-ten most endangered historic landmarks will be fully restored under an ambitious project by the Historical Society of Ocean Grove.
The society has announced a fund-raising drive to restore the 1907 Fountain of Hope, located in Founders Park at Central and Surf Avenues. Originally a four-tier fountain with cascading water, the fountain has stood at the center of Founders Park for 110 years but has not operated with water since the 1970s.
The fountain was listed this year by Preservation New Jersey as one the state’s 10 most endangered historic places. Out of the fountain’s four cast-iron tiers, only the bottom tier remains.
“That is the only one left, the others disappeared over the years. We don’t know what happened to them,” said Ocean Grove historian Ted Bell, who is spearheading the restoration project.
Bell said the fountain stopped working in 1976 and slowly fell into disuse. He said two similar cast-iron tiers have been found in Red Bank and efforts are underway to see if these are the missing tiers.
Another option is to send the entire fountain to Alabama for restoration during the winter.
The fountain was designed by the J.W. Fiske Iron Company of New York City, which was purchased in 2010 by the Robinson Ironworks of Alexander City, Alabama. Robinson Ironworks is an internationally-recognized cast iron and metal work company and has several of the original molds for the Ocean Grove fountain. Bell has contacted Robinson Ironworks and initiated a project timeline and budget.
The fund-raising drive is divided into two parts: $86,500 for complete restoration of the fountain and an estimated $20,000 for site work, including replacing the cement base. The total cost is estimated at $106,500.
“I am cautiously optimistic the fountain will head to Alabama for the winter,” Bell said.
He said donations for the restoration project are coming in and, so far, about $21,000 has been raised. Grants are also being sought.
“We have broken the restoration costs down into $10,000 to $12,000 units that will fund different phases of the ongoing project.
The 1.3-acre Founder’s Park, near Wesley Lake, is the site where the first summer Methodist camp meetings were held in Ocean Grove after the Civil War and it is one of the earliest parks in the historic district. It also contains a large metal urn and a Civil War cannon.
The goal is to have the fountain returned to its former glory by the 150th anniversary of Ocean Grove, in the summer of 2019. The Historical Society of Ocean Grove established a separate fund for all fountain donations. Information is available at the Historical Society at 50 Pitman Avenue, across from Auditorium Park. For further information on the fountain restoration, please contact Ted Bell at the Historical Society (732) 774-1869.
The Historical Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and gifts to the society are tax deductible.