126-year-old fountain being restored in West Chester

Friends of Marshall Square Park are in the process of restoring the original five-tier fountain which once was there. They hope it will be finished by late September or early October. Courtesy photo

Friends of Marshall Square Park are in the process of restoring the original five-tier fountain which once was there. They hope it will be finished by late September or early October. Courtesy photo

By Candice Monhollan, cmonhollan@ 21st-centurymedia.com, @CMonhollanDLN on Twitter

Posted: 07/03/15, 4:49 PM EDT Updated: 2 hrs ago

WEST CHESTER >> It has been over 60 years since the five-tiered Victorian fountain stood in Marshall Square Park in West Chester.
But the Friends of Marshall Square Park (FMSP), a West Chester community group, is changing that as they move forward in restoring the once big community magnet.
“A lot of people always thought it would be cool to get the fountain back,” said Jeff Beitel, president of FMSP. “It has been missing and not in the park longer than it was installed and running in the park.”
Originally installed in 1889 in the northeast corner of the park, it was once described by the Daily Local News in 1932 as producing “a genuine thrill, a gorgeous effect to be remembered.”
But some time in the 1950s, the fountain was disassembled and the top four tiers were removed, leaving behind just the bottom tier and the basin in the park.
“We have not been able to find any documentation of exactly when the fountain was taken down and we don’t know exactly for what cause,” said Jim Salvas of FMSP.
For some years, no one knew what happened to the tiers until Gene and Joan Gagliardi found them and installed three of the four tiers on their farm.
The top tier, however, was never found.
“(Gene Gagliardi) brought it back to his farm and restored it there as a working fountain,” Salvas said. “He kept it out there and maintained it for years.”
FMSP recovered the three tiers after the Gagliardis moved and have had them stored away since 2012.
That didn’t mean FMSP forgot about them.
In fact, as of that time, they began to draw up plans to fix up the tiers and remnants of the fountain in the park and restore it to its original beauty and back in its rightful place.
“Some of (the tiers) are a little rough and there is going to be some repairing on it,” Beitel said. “I think when we get it done and all painted up, nobody is going to know the difference.”
FMSP has been raising money, all through fundraisers and donations, without the borough paying a dine, to pay for the restoration.
On June 18, FMSP announced a donation of $45,000 from Pat Loew, widow of the developer and philanthropist Jack Loew, making her the park’s new benefactor.
“One of our members approached (Loew) at a function and told her all about what we were doing and that we were looking for donations,” Beitel said. “She was very honored to be able to help us out with this. It enabled us to get the project really rolling. Before her generous donation, we really didn’t have the money to pull the trigger. That has no allowed us to build on the momentum.”
Being the park’s benefactor will give Loew a plaque to name the fountain in honor of someone and she chose her late husband.
FMSP now has enough to pay for the entire restoration of the fountain and already has all the contracts in place to build a new basin and restore the iron tiers — and create a new top tier designed to look as close to the original as possible.
But they aren’t done fundraising yet.
“We’re trying to create it as a new gateway to West Chester,” Salvas said. “We’re putting in new park benches around there. The whole path down there will be reset.”
When all is said and done and residents drive down East Marshall Street toward the park, they will undoubtedly see the fountain not only during the day, but also at night as FMSP plan to install lights on it.
The hope, and tentative schedule, has the fountain being finished by late September or early October, just before the winter freeze sets in.
“A lot of people don’t realize that Marshall Square Park is the first original park West Chester dedicated and is actually seven years older than New York City’s Central Park,” Beitel said. “The fountain will be an amazing public feature for the park and the town itself. We’re quite proud to do this.”
Contact Candice Monhollan at 610-235-2652.

Major Donation Will Restore Historic West Chester Fountain

Friends of Marshall Square Park received $45,000 from a single benefactor.
By Justin Heinze (Patch Staff) June 19, 2015


[L-R] Tony Stancato, Fountain Committee; Anne Walters, FMSP Vice President; Pat Loew, FMSP Benefactor; Jeff Beitel, FMSP President

Friends of Marshall Square Park (FMSP), a West Chester community group, announced a major donation for the restoration of the park’s historic fountain on June 18 at the Music at Marshall concert in the park.

Holly Brown, former Borough Council President and a member of FMSP’s Fountain Committee, said this gift allows the group to restore and install a working fountain before the end of this year.

The park’s new benefactor is Pat Loew, widow of well-known developer and philanthropist Jack Loew.

Her gift of $45,000 almost matches all funds raised by FMSP in the past few years.

In recognition, FMSP proposes to designate the restored fountain the “Jack Loew Memorial Fountain.”

Installed in 1889 at the northeast corner of the park, the five-tiered Victorian fountain quickly became a hub of community activity. By 1932, the Daily Local News wrote:

“When the tall central stream is turned on, tossing its waters high in the air, and filling the twenty-foot pool with spray… that produces a genuine thrill, a gorgeous effect to be remembered.”

By the 1950s, most of this great fountain was removed, leaving behind its basin and lowest tier. The upper portions were later found and saved from destruction by Gene and Joan Gagliardi, who installed them at their farm in East Bradford. With their help, Friends of Marshall Square Park recovered these sections in 2012, drew up plans for full restoration, and set about raising the needed funds.

The plans shown Thursday night include restoring the iron fountain and basin, installing a new iron fence to match the existing one, and re-laying and expanding the antique brick paving. At the end of the first phase, the fountain will be fully operational with a new pump, modern plumbing and electrical service, plus lighting and security features.

According to FMSP President Jeff Beitel, “Our goal is to create a welcoming space and gateway for our town.”

Anne Walters, FMSP Vice President and Chair of its Fountain Committee, pointed out that though current funds are enough to restore and install a working fountain, it will cost more to complete the “gateway” features. The final goal is $200,000, with almost $130,000 already raised or pledged by FMSP members and donors.

To reach the final goal, FMSP seeks donations of any amount and offers special recognition for major donors. Donor opportunity details are available at marshallsquarepark.org.

FINALLY… The Fountain Restoration Begins!

After ten long years diligently working to restore Marshall Square Park’s original 1889 Fountain, FMSP gave the go-ahead to remove our fountain garden, planted in 2006, and break ground — ground leading to the past.

The next step is restoring the fountain’s original Masonry Basin, including mechanical connections for the electric pump.

Thanks to our continuing fundraising efforts — Membership dues, Progressive Plates, Music at Marshall, Marshall Park Run/Walk, Fall Garden Parties, and Sponsored Benches — our dream approaches reality.

The generosity of notable donors deserves praise. Everyone’s support brings a New Gateway to West Chester and a beautiful, exciting entrance to Marshall Square park. 1889 is pleased ;-)

Fountain Basin • Tier 1 of 5 • 6/10/2015

Fountain Basin • Tier 1 of 5 • 6/10/2015

Original Water Jet 6/10/2015  •  Croquet Ball (?) found under the basin rim

An Original Water Jet • Croquet Ball (?) found under the basin rim • 6/10/2015

Marshall Square Park Fountain in its Original Glory.

Marshall Square Park Fountain in its Original Glory in front of the old Chester County Hospital.

Save the Dates!

Sin Brothers perform at 2014's Music at Marshall

Sin Brothers at last year’s Music at Marshall.

Tonight’s Music at Marshall is ON.

The annual
Music at Marshall Concert/Picnic series returns to Marshall Square Park.

Mark your calendars! Always the third Thursday, this year’s dates are June 18, July 16, & August 20.

June’s band is a fantastic start…

Sin Brothers, a home-grown favorite, often appears in West Chester and at Music at Marshall on June 18, 2015.

Stay tuned and for now, SAVE THOSE DATES.

2015 Annual Park Cleanup

Jim, Jennifer, Jon, Jenn, Joanie, John, Miriam, and Jeff

Jim, Jennifer, Jon, Jenn, Joanie, John, Miriam, and Jeff

A sincere thanks to all the volunteers who came Saturday, April 18, to spruce up Marshall Square Park. With the fabulous weather and great turnout, we did an extraordinary amount of work. Fantastic job everyone!

Please remember to thank the following people who worked so hard to clean up our park—

Joan Albisser
Ronnie Balassone
Miriam Coleman
Jon Long
Jenn Long
Jim Salvas
Bill Scott
Jennifer Seaver
David Sweet
John Theilacker
Kathy Theilacker

A very special thanks to Bill Scott’s cousin Joanie, who raked leaves for the better part of three days!

Watch us work!

Jeff Beitel, FMSP President

Imagine… Your Own Park Bench

A place to pause, rest, and reflect on the beauty of Marshall Square Park. A lasting gift to the public, to your family, and to yourself.

Crowds of citizens filled Marshall Square and the benches were
occupied all day long. The square now is a beautiful place, the
flowers and plants showing to good advantage.
Daily Local News, June 3, 1889

Imagine Your Bench Here


Sponsored Park Benches – $5,000

The few old concrete and wood benches remaining in Marshall Square Park have deteriorated and need replacing, creating a unique opportunity to sponsor your own park bench.

From Keystone Ridge Designs, the new dark bronze benches have Victorian charm befitting our park’s setting and age. The welded cast aluminum legs with steel slats are commercial-grade construction to last many years.

Sponsors may compose an inscription for a 10” x 5” bronze plaque that secures to a bench.

BenchLamplighterWithPlaque FMSPBenchDiagram

Click to enlarge.

Bench Locations

Pending availability, sponsors may specify a bench site from the plan below. Download Plan PDF

Planned Placement of Marshall Square Park Commemorative Benches (click to enlarge)

Planned Placement of Marshall Square Park Commemorative Benches (click to enlarge)


Other than bench and installation costs, all proceeds are for the restoration of our historic park fountain.

Make tax-deductible contribution checks payable to…
“Friends of West Chester Parks & Recreation, Inc.”
(an affiliated 501(c)(3) organization)
Note on your check, “FMSP Sponsorship Bench”

Mail contributions to…
PO BOX 3264
WEST CHESTER, PA 19381-3264

Take a Chance on Art!

The raffle at Saturday night’s Progressive Plates dinner features the artworks below by Jim Salvas and Catherine Carney. These prizes, the winners of the Marshall Square Park prizes in the 2014 Brandywine Valley Plein Air competition, are valued at $500 each.

Raffle tickets are only $20 each or three for $50; and you don’t have to be there to win. But actually, we all win because all ticket sales go toward Marshall Square Park improvements.

So, bring cash to the Progressive Plates dinner or use this link to buy your tickets online right now:


Framed Pigment Ink Photo Print

“Art in the Park,” Framed Pigment Ink Photo Print by Jim Salvas.

“Children in the Tree,” Framed Pastel by Catherine Carney.