STOCKBRIDGE — Two significant downtown historic restoration projects are getting underway, funded by a $60,000 Community Preservation Act grant approved by town voters in May 2018.
The projects are the restoration of the town-owned Cat and Dog Fountain, a scenic landmark on South Street (Route 7) in the grassy triangle adjacent to the Red Lion Inn, and the Horse Watering Trough at the corner of Main and Elm streets near the town library. Both "will contribute significantly to the charm and beauty of the town," according to the project description provided by the Stockbridge Fountain Committee.
The now-deteriorated fountain, sculpted in Italy, was donated to the town in 1862 by John H. Gourlie, a summer resident and New York City financier, who lived in the South Street house he named Ingleside, across from the Red Lion Inn.
"It has come to be seen as a metaphor for the town's sometimes heated local politics, representing the battle between progress and preservation," the project description stated.
"The Cat and Dog Fountain is the centerpiece of the town's busiest intersection and is an important surviving element of Stockbridge history," the committee's application for CPA funding stated. "Restoration of this charming feature and its island setting will ensure the continuity of earlier generations' vision for the Town."
Steven Mack and Marc Volk of Foresight Land Services in Pittsfield inspected the fountain on Wednesday as they launched the design phase of the project.
The Fountain Committee members are Kate Fletcher of the Planning Board, film and stage designer Carl Sprague and GeGe Kingston, formerly of the Laurel Hill Association. Project consultants are Bob Jones and water garden designer Anthony Archer-Wills.
"The goal is to restore the original appearance of both fountains," Sprague said, "and to update the plumbing so the water in the fountains recirculates rather than using thousands of gallons a year of town water. We'll be saving a lot of water. "
The project is expected to go out to bid after completion of the mechanical drawings, Fletcher said.
"It's a complicated thing," Sprague said. "There's masonry involved, the art restoration of the statues, the plumbing and the electric. None of it's rocket science, but it's a lot of different pieces."
There's no specific deadline, he added. Sprague hopes for a groundbreaking this summer.
The basin of the Cat and Dog Foundation needs to be repaired, he explained, and work on the replica statues will follow. The original statues are likely to be stored, possibly in the Stockbridge Library, Museum & Archives.
The Horse Watering Trough, a simpler project, requires repairs to cracks in the marble, and needs a recirculating system, Sprague said.
The fountain at the town's busiest intersection has had an unusual history. In 1976, after the statues developed cracks, they were replaced by a replica cast in concrete by Great Barrington sculptor Otello Guarducci, according to Eagle archives.
But by 1990, the replica had deteriorated and was replaced by the refurbished original statues made of sandstone, which had been retained in the basement of Town Hall. That work was funded by the Laurel Hill Association.
The Horse Watering Trough, dated 1881 and made from rough-hewn white Alford marble, was given to the town by Giovanni Albinola, "an Italian patriot released from the horrors of an Austrian prison, as an expression of gratitude for the peace and hospitality he had found here [in Stockbridge]," according to the Laurel Hill Association Archive.
It bears the inscription, "Merciful Man is Kind to Beast, Utility is Preferable to Grandeur."
Clarence Fanto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.