“First, What kind of life was lived in this place, that is, Why and how did its builders build as they did?
And second, what rules with general validity and applicability did they follow?”
Carroll William Westfall, Learning From Pompeii.


Friday, February 15, 2019

Emancipation Monument: A Proposal

As is well known, Richmond has been the scene of an extended conversation- sometimes extreme in its terms- about the city's monuments, particularly those placed along Monument Avenue, the city's renowned boulevard traditionally dedicated to Confederate generals. We reviewed the larger monumental tradition in Richmond some time ago, before the topic took center stage. The mayor has been alternately in favor of some sort of retention and removal of the Confederate monuments. The governor has recently come out in favor of removal of the monuments from the street to a museum.   

Richmond's local History Museum, the Valentine, has sponsored a competition and exhibit around proposed solutions to the controversy.  One of the members of my firm, Stephen Hershey, entered a classical proposal in the competition. He proposed leaving some or all of the existing monuments in place and answering them with an imposing new classical structure incorporating monumental sculpture. As might be expected, it was not selected to be shown in the exhibit.   

Here is his description and a proposed set of guidelines, which outline a significant formal representation, in keeping with classical principles, of the sacrifices and achievements of the many individuals who acted in favor of emancipation. It places on the avenue a counter-statement that rises to and perhaps surpasses the old monuments, transforming the meaning of the street for the benefit of the entire city, not just the fraction of its citizens who idolized the Confederate heroes.

 _________________________________________________________________
 
Monument to Emancipation
 
The Monument to Emancipation is dedicated to native Virginians who opposed slavery before and during the Civil War. Abolitionists in Virginia, like Mary Bowser and Elizabeth Van Lew, played a pivotal role as spies during the War, gathering and relaying Confederate secrets to the Union. African Americans from Virginia like William Harvey Carney, the first African American Medal of Honor recipient, played an important role on the battlefront. Often unheralded, the Monument to Emancipation gives these individuals a prominent position on Monument Avenue, filling a gap between the Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee statues. This proposal is intended to help establish criteria for future monuments. The goal is to establish and maintain critical design guidelines that will preserve the beauty of Monument Avenue.
 
Design Criteria for Future Monuments
 
1.  Monuments should represent individuals over a broad spectrum of historical significance.
2. Preference should be given to native Virginians or individuals who made significant contributions to Virginia history.

3. Controversial figures (e.g. Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser) should be represented on Monument Avenue based on their historical significance.

4. Monuments should reinforce the civic order, style, and organization of the street.

5. Monuments should be of similar size and scale to existing monuments. Variety is permitted but in good taste. The Monument to Emancipation is an example of a monument that solidifies its presence adjacent to the polarizing Davis and Lee statues.

6. Monuments should look like they belong to Monument Avenue. The original designers of the boulevard envisioned the future erection of additional monuments.
 


 



 


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Two Public Places Renewed

We here at Urbanismo have been fortunate to work on the designs for two of Richmond's most venerable public places, Monroe Park and the square that was historically occupied by the Richmond City (later Seventeenth Street) Market. The senior of us was employed at 3North, the architecture and planning firm that executed the master plan for Monroe Park in 2008.  Several years later, both of us were employed at StudioAmmons and produced a design project in response to a request for proposals from the City government for the Seventeenth Street Market Square. Although our design solution was not selected for the Seventeenth Street Market, we were hopeful that the final product would be as a sensitive to the underlying context carried by the site as the Monroe Park project turned out the be. Neither of us were involved in the implementation of either park.

Monroe Park, restored fountain looking north

We remain convinced that the best responses to urban interventions involve "excavating" the design solution from the site, carefully examining and weighing the value of the preexisting patterns at the site and making use of those patterns to give continuity and to avoid gratuitously and inharmoniously disrupting healthy urban and architectural patterns for generations to come. By this standard, the Monroe Park project receives high honors and the Seventeenth Street Market project fails miserably.    

The 2009 3North Design for Monroe was largely executed as shown in 2017-18, with the exception of the rill running from the fountain to the lower center.

Monroe Park

The Monroe Park Restoration has been nearly a decade in gestation, but finally opened late last year after nearly two years of being fenced off from the public.
 
Monroe Park soon after opening in October 2018. The restored Checkers House, occupied by a police station and coffee
shop. New lighting, walking surface, and terrace around the Checkers House.



Restored Checkers House from the north, Oct. 2018.

The result is worthy of celebration. The reopened park is truly a restoration of all that is best of a great urban amenity. Major paths are lined once again by allees or rows of matching trees. The concrete and asphalt paving of the park's paths, arranged in the complex radiating plan implemented in 1877 by city engineer Wilfred Cutshaw, has been replaced by firmly packed yet soft-to-the-foot fine gravel. The brick Checkers Building of 1939 has been restored, and a completely new, classical pavilion of openwork bronze has been erected at the SW corner of the park across from the Altria Theatre (the Mosque Theatre of 1927).

Monroe Park as it appeared at its peak in 1896. Seen from the east.
The park, founded in 1851, was one of a series of three “breathing places in the midst of the City or convenient to it,” acquired as essential civic amenities by the common council. Modeled on similar squares in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York, Richmond's ten-acre "Western Square" was designed to provide an open, green place for the health and comfort of the citizens. It took many years for it to be landscaped and improved.

It was not until after the end of the Civil War and after use as a fair grounds and military camp that it began to be used as a fair-weather promenade and visual amenity in direct competition with the city's original urban park at Capitol Square. The adjutant general of the US Army obtained funding to make modest improvements to the square in the early 1870s. In 1872, he donated a rock fountain at the center of the square. Charles Dimmock, the city engineer, prepared a plan of improvements for Monroe Square in 1871. and its gradual improvement commenced under his direction.

Elm trees and privet hedge along the Franklin Street side of Monroe Park [VCU Library]
It is surrounded (at least on two sides), as it likely was for many years, by American elms. According to the 2008 Master Plan researched by Tyler Potterfield, the planting plan begins an attempt to duplicate the wide range of textures and colors of trees and shrubs within the park. As planted between 1889 and 1904 by the city nurseryman, the park including maples, lindens, poplars, and elms. Some 62 trees representing 26 different tree species that were enumerated in an inventory of 1904 had, by 2008, been replaced by a total of 68 trees representing only eight species. The central "tazza" (tiered) fountain, made of cast iron and installed c 1906, and the statues of Confederate General Williams Carter Wickham (1891) and newspaper publisher Joseph Bryan (1911), as well as a brick World War II monument (1951), continue to face toward the park's periphery.

2004 VCU Master Plan- thankfully unexecuted design for a intensive intrusion into the grounds of Monroe Park
 from the west. Landscape designers and planners often seem unable to resist the desire to 'do something" like adding
 unnecessary plazas and "water features" that wok against the "parti" or design concept embedded in the park
 itself, eroding the clarity of its form 
By invisibly updating the park the city has demonstrated the greatest restraint at a time when subtlety in landscape design is in recession. The park support groups and the late Tyler Potterfield, senior planner, deserve great credit for the general preservation approach for the park. The project treated this great public amenity with the respect owed to the foresight of the designers preceded us. There was no need here for contemporary design features, intrusive public art, and superfluous elements like splash pads that pander to a supposed need to educate or entertain the public in order to convince them to make the fullest use of the park.  




Bryant Park, New York City, plan [above] and photo looking east [below]

The initial design by 3north, headed up by architect and landscape architect Jay Hugo, was to replicate the success of other urban plazas like Bryant Park in New York City, which reopened in 1992 as "programmed" park with provisions for eating, playing, and relaxing, including food, New York Public Library kiosks, boule courts with instructors, loose seating, and a wide range of seasonal activities.

3north- watercolor rendering of rill, 2009. 
Some of the features of the initial design were "value engineered" away, including the "rill," a fountain which ran down the center of the main cross path toward the James River from the central pool- reproducing the Mountain, Piedmont, and Tidewater- the three regions traversed by the river and ending in a pool for sailing toy boats. Also, a series of decorative pylons forming gateways at each park entrance and a low wall to accentuate a sense of enclosure originally provided by a circumferential fence and- a later replacement- privet hedge.

3north- watercolor rendering of the restored Checkers
House and the new café- very close to the project as executed, 2009.
The author was involved in the design of the rill, and also in the restoration of the Checkers House (the original park keeper's station) as a café and police station, and in the selection, with the City's architectural historian, Tyler Potterfield, of the varieties and layout of the recreated allees which line the major paths, based on the original tree layout. The logic of the plantings had been lost over the more than one hundred years since its planting and the park was characterized by a motley collection of trees some of which were unhealthy and, and in the case of the many hollies and magnolias, inappropriate for the use. 

View east through the park. October, 2018
Our connection with the project ended with the design phase and we have observed the slow progress of its realization from afar, hopefully. When we visited one beautiful week day, the park was occupied almost entirely by students from the nearby university, playing Frisbee, reading, or sampling the coffee. The concession operator explained that part of her duties were providing equipment for games, including bocce, chess, and table tennis. We vote this one of the nation's best and most understated park restorations.                   

Seventeenth Street Market  

"As well as the encroachment of commercial material in traditional urban spaces the understanding of urban values is also under threat from the type of commercial space common to the cities of the leading developed economies. . . . In this context the elements of public space are often appropriated as a component of the developer's armoury in creating a successful segment of the city, yet they are exclusive environments without the diversity which authentic urban situations contain as a matter of course." Eamonn Canniffe, The Politics of the Piazza: The History and Meaning of the Italian Square, Ashgate, 2008.

The “Market of the City of Richmond” was founded by city ordinance in 1782. We explored its history here and the threats to it here.

As we have explored in detail in this post, the proposed Seventeenth Street Market Square represents the sixth intervention at the site of Richmond’s historic city market. From its earliest days on the bank of Shockoe Creek, the City Market has been an accretionary, transformative place, changing its character with the changing shape of the city. The Market Square was originally placed on the edge of the settlement. One contemporary remembered the “green pasture” of the town's Common, which extended from the Market House down to Shockoe Creek. Eventually the area around the market was lined with shops and it took on a more enclosed form. 


Richmond City Market in 1814. Detail of Market House of 1794 from
Virginia Mutual Assurance Society policy. The three arches to the right were an addition.
Like its predecessors in Europe, Richmond's First Market Square embeds centuries of change and growth, although over time it assumed the form of a conventional enclosed square. In fact, American public places like First Market Square have traditionally embodied the kinds of urbane social and economic values that we usually associate with European plazas.  
1854 Market Hall

1913 Market Hall
The market, which began in the half-block between Main Street and Arch (Walnut) Alley, was extended over time as far as Grace Street, two blocks to the north. The Market Square was eventually surrounded by brick buildings housing grocers and butchers' shops. By 1853, the market building was judged by a city committee to be inadequate. The main section of the market was replaced an Italianate-style two-story building was likely designed by the City Engineer, W. McGill. This replaced, in turn, by three other structures in succession. The last market building was demolished in 2017 in order to create, for the first time, an open square on the same site.   


Shopping in 2013 for a Christmas wreath with Lucille Allen (seen at right above) and her son. 
With her sister, Rosa Fleming, she sold home-grown vegetables and
hand-made Christmas decorations on the market for more than fifty years. 
As part of the rich, bottom-up, market-driven development that has characterized the area along Shockoe Creek since the late seventeenth century, the area around the Seventeenth Street or First Market is an increasingly vital neighborhood in its own right. Given the loss of the historic market halls, most of what was significant about the market area was embedded in its street layout, its pavement, and its shape. The curbing, street pavement, and sidewalks carried its history as strongly as the buildings that surround it.

Preservation of these urban textures and forms was essential to provide continuity and context. There are subtle formal and historical distinctions that must be made in order to take full advantage of the gifts this valuable civic resource offers to the city. 

This place has been at the heart of commerce in Richmond for over two hundred years. Shockoe Valley, with its growing young population, should retain a vital market function, preferably with a number of traditional permanent stalls, not just temporary shelters. 

In contrast, the project's planners treated the square as a "festival marketplace"- a wide concourse leading from Main to Franklin and beyond. This kind of planning led them to treat the square as if it was just a link in a grand scheme seen from a privileged, bird’s eye perspective.

The square did not evolve as an open piazza. While the edges of the square are formed by building facades on the south, east, and west, there is no closure at the north. It is long and narrow and “leaky” at the corners. The square was meant to be filled with architecture. This does not mean that it couldn't be adapted for use as a piazza designed to serve the civic good. 

Third Building at Richmond’s First Market site plan from Sanborn Map of 1889. Photo of first state
(built 1854) below on left and with second-floor hall removed on the right. Note the arch in the tower at the center.

The Market Square consists of two historic sections. The earliest part of the present square is the southern half. Its legal boundaries laid out in 1792. It contained the two-story building that served as the market house, municipal building, assembly hall, records office, and seat of justice. This building was later rebuilt and expanded to the north as far as Franklin Street.
Detail from the 1865 panorama of the city of Richmond looking west from Church Hill [Library of Congress]. The cupola of Mason's Hall is center left. The market and its bell tower aligned with Arch Alley is seen behind it.
Most importantly, its two main sections were linked by a central archway in the form of a tower that spanned “Arch Alley” midway along the market, permitting movement from east to west across the square. The elongated form of the now-vanished market buildings is defined by the cobbled streets and the granite curbing, each of which dates to the heyday of the market in the nineteenth century. The market gradually extended all the way to Grace Street in a series of shed-like buildings that diminished as they moved north.

Arch Alley looking east before replacement of paving in the market square.
Early conceptual version of the market square design, relating to its proposed role as entrance concourse to the failed ball park scheme.
Design Rendering
As it nears completion in mid-winter 2018, the renovated Seventeenth Street Market Square presents a slickly commercial appeal. Although it is a considerable improvement over the early renderings from 2013, meaningless gestures like the wiggly "water feature" in that design continue to affirm the Modernist bona fides of the designer. Shifting checkerboard squares, each with grass and a tree, punctuate the concrete paving. The old market bell is placed at ground level in a sculptural circular frame. Conventional electric streetlights are overpowered by tall area lights.

Seventeenth Street Market in November 2018 nearing opening day.


Banning cars and trucks from travel along the existing streets through the square was a mistake. As the recent Richmond Downtown Master Plan indicates, areas without traffic do not feel safe, seem empty, and suffer commercially. "Pedestrianization” sounds humane, but, except in certain high density areas, it can be deadly to commerce. Cars underline the activity in the area and parked cars even make visitors feel safer on the sidewalks. 

Seventeenth Street Market Square nearing completion


The pavement in the square has been completely replaced in the name of handicapped access, but it has flattened out the sense of historical associations. As a historic district, existing pavement could have been maintained to the greatest degree possible, not only in the square , but along the adjacent streets where, in some cases, it is the principal reminder of the historic context. 

The organizing elements of the landscape could have been used to reinforce underlying historic patterns. For instance, a central walkway from north to south could represent the central aisle that defined each of the three previous market halls on the site. In contrast paving with one flat plane from one side reminds this visitor mostly of the city's outdoor suburban malls. 
As we said in 2013, by treating the project with the care it deserved, the Market Square could have become, once again, as flexible, serviceable, and exciting as any American public square or Italian piazza of today.  








Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Richmond's Civic Markers III: Fountains as a symbol of the Civic Good



"Consuls, emperors, and popes, the great men of every age, have found no better way of immortalizing their memories than by the shifting, indestructible, ever new, yet unchanging, upgush and downfall of water. They have written their names in that unstable element, and proved it a more durable record than brass or marble."
Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, 1860

 [Fountains] are sited throughout [Pompeii], all very similar to one another and none very elaborate. While clearly more utilitarian than decorative in form, their siting is a different matter, for as we have seen, they so clearly contribute to the general urban structure that we must conclude that their placement took more into consideration than the utilitarian demands of the hydraulic engineers.   
                                         C.W. Westfall, Learning From Pompeii, 1998.



Richard Worsham, Proposed fountain for 17th St Market
Springs and fountains can be placed in a distinct category of civic amenity, but one that merges with the subset of monuments. Like monuments, fountains have been used to mark nodes along significant urban routes.

From a purely functional perspective, Richmonders, from the earliest date, relied on springs and public wells for water. As the nineteenth century passed, Richmond joined other traditional cities in the intentional use of water to mark out the public realm and to reinforce the city’s relationship with a tamed and ordered nature, while at the same time providing access to element required for life by both people and animals.  

The city's access to water began at a very basic level. Public wells at street corners and a spring located south of Main Street sufficed for the town’s water supply in the eighteenth century. By 1808, however, the city, following national trends, used ingenuity to improve the purity and volume of the supply. Water was now conveyed in wooden pipes to the market at Seventeenth Street from a spring near Libby Hill. The resulting terminal fountain at the City Market must have been a familiar and significant destination for farmers, patrons, stall-holders, and their thirsty draft animals, not to mention the residents of all sorts that relied on that and similar public sources of water placed throughout the town.  

Richmond's City Hall, site of a public well in the early nineteenth century.

The city was constantly expanding and improving its rudimentary water system. As technologies became accessible, the city applied them to the acquisition of addition supplies of water for drinking and fire prevention. In 1816, the common hall (city council) agreed to sink a well in Broad Street near the new Courthouse, which was located at the site of the current Old City Hall [Common Hall, 27 May 1816].

By 1830, Richmond’s water supply "consisted of public wells at the street corners and several public hydrants with water conveyed in wooden pipes from a spring near Chimborazo Hill and from one in the Capitol Square” [Christian, 1912, 115]. In 1827, the Common Hall had issued an order forbidding tampering with the city’s public water supply, including wells and pumps along H Street (Broad Street) installed at the city’s expense and the wooden pipes, placed by “sundry liberal and deserving inhabitants. . . [who] have at their own expense, placed wooden pipes through which water is conveyed from the Basin of the Canal, through the Main Street of the said City as far as Shockoe Creek, and have erected fountains or jets in different parts of the said pipes, whereby many Citizens are supplied with water, and in case of Fire in that part of the city, great advantages may be experienced from the water supplied at the said Fountains or Pumps. . . .” [Ordinance for keeping in repair the Fountains in the Main Street of the city of Richmond, 16 Nov. 1827].   

In 1829, the City proposed an expanded "watering" of D and E streets (Cary and Main) from the Basin at 11th Street to Shockoe Creek, using iron pipes, at a cost of $5,631.64 [Common Hall, 28 May 1829].  A pump on Fourteenth Street was also proposed for use by fire companies. In the same year, Nicholas Mills ceded to the City a twenty-five foot-wide street through his lot from 7th to 8th street, giving access to a tract containing Gibson’s Spring, guaranteeing "open access to the said Spring . . . reserved for public purposes” [Common Hall, 8 June 1829].

A new system was opened in 1832, supplied by a water-powered pump with a capacity of 400,000 gallons of poorly filtered canal water per day. This system served to fill a 4,000,000 gallon reservoir. Water was distributed through twelve miles of pipe to both public and private locations. The first private hydrant was in the yard of Corbin Warwick on Grace Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets [Christian 1912, 115]. 


Detail from 1865 view of Castle Thunder showing an iron hydrant on the NE corner of
18th and Cary Streets. The hydrant was detailed like a fluted Doric column.

In ancient times, the provision of water in cities had been delivered at regularly placed urban nodes. From Pompeii to Paris, water outlets minimally required for the civic good have been harnessed to the larger urban project, underlining, by their sensory contributions, the significance of selected urban intersections and plazas. In Richmond, as elsewhere in the region, fountains or basins were provided at major entry points to the city for the watering of draft animals and herds. Hydrants were found at certain street corners for use in filling pitchers, tubs, and fighting fires.  

The value and provision of water to city populations was one of the many topics that exercised the minds of early-nineteenth-century planners. In thinking about public water supplies, educated persons as a matter of course compared their plans to improve hygiene with the public fountains and baths of ancient Rome. They also tried to effect the most scientific and economical provision of water for the public. 
Latrobe's Center Square Pump House, Philadelphia (1799-1801)
Benjamin Henry Latrobe, an English architect who began his American career in Richmond, was an advocate of public waterworks in Philadelphia, where outbreaks of disease had decimated the city. Such epidemics were sometimes associated with impurities in the water supply. Latrobe completed Philadelphia's public water system in 1801. In postscripts to his proposal for the waterworks, dealing with fountains and public baths, Latrobe displayed his characteristic interest in the effects of and correction of local climatic conditions and his studied opinion that the value of water justified the imitation by Americans of the indulgent practices of despotic European countries (by which he meant imperial Rome). 

According to one study, Latrobe asserted that "the fountains, which would supply the poor of the city with free water, would also provide the 'only means of cooling the air.' Air cooled by the agitation of water was, Latrobe asserted, of the purest kind.' While it is most likely that Latrobe was referring to physical purity (here significant because miasmatic theory charged impure air as a source of disease), the word recalls a classical climactic tradition, which emphasized air as the medium which communicated the specificities of the environment to the human body" [Jennifer Y. Chuong "Art is a Hardy Plant": Benjamin Henry Latrobe and the Cultivation of a Transitional Aesthetics, Thesis, Cornell University) 2007].


Godefroys' landscape st the Capitol Square included cascades that occuied the gullies
to each side of the Capitol [Mijacah Bates, Map of Richmond, 1832].

One of the most significant ornamental uses of water were the cascades provided in the early nineteenth century by Maximilian Godefroy in the place of the former spring-fed ravines that flanked the Capitol. These aided in the transformation of a disordered landscape into the city’s first ornamental park, a suitable setting for its earliest monumental public sculpture. Later in the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century the language of fountains became more elaborate and the functional fountain was joined by the purely ornamental. When John Notman redesigned the square in 1850, he added tiered fountains at the bottom of each of the two dells that took the place of the former ravines. 

1850 Capitol Square Fountain seen in 1960 [RTD, Valentine].

The city developed as part of its amenities a series of artesian springs in parks and green belts on the city’s periphery for public use. These also had a significant ornamental role, using water as a powerful symbol of the public good, organized and given form by the city. The water works at Byrd Park were developed in the 1880s, and the significance of the huge reservoir was later dramatized by a miniature cascade placed at the southern end of the great urban cross-axis of the Boulevard.    


Cascade at the Southern end of the Boulevard axis. The fountain represents the
public water supply housed in the large reservoir just behind.  



Monroe Park Fountain, Post Card, c 1905
[VCU Special Collections]
When Monroe Park was first landscaped in 1872, its center was marked by a naturalistic fountain made in the form of a pyramid of rocks, the city’s first ornamental fountain outside Capitol Square. It was later replaced by the current iron tazzo or tiered fountain. This fountain was used for a wading pool during periods of intense summer heat. The Monroe Park fountain is still fed directly from the city’s public water supply. Like most of Rome’s fountains, the fountain in Monroe Park contains clean, living, water. Current plans for the revitalization of Monroe Park call for it to be replumbed with a recirculating fountain, as if the supply of water in the James River, used to water all the lawns of Richmond, including the automatic sprinklers in the park, was too precious to trickle from the fountain’s graduated bowls.  

Fountain erected in Byrd Park by the Women's Christian
Temperance Union as a memorial to the work of the WCTU and a
 successful crusade in Ohio in 1873, the beginning of the
movement that led to the 18th Amendment banning of the sale
of alcohol in 1919.
Drinking fountains were a favorite civic gesture of temperance societies in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Richmond's temperance fountain, located near the reservoir, provided drinking water to visitors in Byrd Park and was supplied with a mounting block for children. It takes the form of an elegant Roman wall fountain. The upright tablet is supported by carved granite volutes. The basin is edged by an ornamental molding resembling a wreath of bound reeds suggesting the resolution and unity of the uncompromising band of donors.  The inscription reads: "This fountain is erected by the Women's Christian Temperence Union of Richmond and Henrico County and their friends in Memory of the Crusaders of Hillsborough who went out December 19th 1873 with the weapons of prayer and faith in God to overthrow the liquor traffic."
Fountain at the Intersection of Brook Turnpike with West Broad Street [Shorpy]. The fountain has
dog water basins at the bottom. It still serves the police horses at a
location behind the Bill "Bojangles" Robinson statue on Brook Turnpike.  

Capt. Charles S. Morgan gave this marble fountain to serve draft horses at the
center of the city's tobacco warehouse district. It is inscribed
"In Memory of One Who Loved Animals." 
The fountains that provided water to animals entering the city included an ornate cast iron one, now gone, in Manchester and the plain stone structure that distributed water to both large and small animals at the point where Brook Turnpike entered Broad Street. It was later re-located to a site now behind the Bojangles Robinson statue where it serves police horses with fresh water. A third fountain for horses and oxen, made of marble, still stands at the center of the Shockoe Slip in 1905, where tobacco was deposited in one of the city's huge warehouses. Its setting has been marred in recent years by unnecessary foundation planting.


The Monroe Park fountain was followed by similar structures in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including a one depicting a heron in front of the Governor’s Mansion (unfortunately replaced with a very conventional iron one during the Robb administration).  

Wayside Spring, Forest Hills Park
[https://foursquare.com/v/wayside-spring/4c73a7667121a1cda29a65d1]
Richmond residents who preferred spring water to the municipal water supply or didn't have water piped to their houses could get water that welled from the ground in artesian springs that were opened and maintained in parks around the city. These included Byrd Park, Wayside Spring in Forest Hills Park, Fonticello Park (now Carter Jones Park), where the spring has been modernized and still flows. A spring also flowed into a concrete trough along the side of Richmond Henrico Turnpike in Barton Heights. The spring water, which once poured through three lion's heads, is no longer running.
Kanawha Plaza Fountain, located as part of a plaza designed by Robert
Zion of Zion & Breen, completed in 1980

More recent fountains, such as those at the Kanawha Plaza at the James Center, installed during urban improvement projects in the mid-twentieth century, replace the conventional allegory of nature projected by earlier fountains with a literalism that fails to convince the viewer of either its natural origins or its cleanliness. 

Libby Hill Fountain, 1990s.
In contrast, the conventional iron tazzo (tiered) fountains added in recent years on Libby Hill have a much less focused connection with water as a carrier of civic meaning. They serve merely as park design amenities. These amenities (examples of the widespread rethinking of traditional fountains as superfluous “water features”) which, while they signal renewed pride in the park’s grounds and an improved level of upkeep, largely fail as markers of the public good. Their placement and form, like their recirculating contents, are inadequately related to the nature and history of the site.