When I wrote about the Lotta Fountain on Boston’s Esplanade in 2016, I commented that:
“The Lotta Fountain is due to be restored this year as part of the Esplanade 2020 project backed by the Esplanade Association in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Restoration should be complete by the fall.”
Recently I received an email from Kelsey Pramik, Director of Programs and Outreach for the Esplanade Association with an update on the fountain. Ms. Pramik let me know that restoration of the Lotta Fountain is complete and the fountain is operational once more.
This is good news for the many dogs who get their exercise on the Esplanade, especially in hot weather. The humans who bring them will probably appreciate it as well.
“The Esplanade Association’s website notes that, “The fountain needed significant conservatorial and engineering repair after decades of neglect. The Esplanade Association raised the necessary funds to fully restore the Lotta Fountain to working condition.” The Esplanade Association, “the only private non-profit group dedicated to maintaining and improving the Charles River Esplanade,” will fund maintenance of the Lotta Fountain for the next ten years
Repairing the Fountain
The Lotta Fountain consists of a six-foot granite column topped with a carved seated dog sculpted by Katharine Lane Weems. Ms. Weems specialized in animal sculpture and several examples of her work appear around Boston.
Water pours from a cat’s mouth into a basin from which dogs and other animals can drink. A granite enclosure paved in bluestone brackets the fountain element with benches on either side. The end columns have a duck carved on the left and a rabbit on the right in bas relief. The words “Lotta Fountain 1939” are carved on the front.
Repairs to the fountain included:
- Fixing the plumbing so the fountain spouts water spouting from the cat’s mouth into the pool below.
- Cleaning and re-pointing the granite
- Restoring the cat’s face and the ears of the dog atop the column
- Making the fountain accessible for those with disabilities
- Installing a bronze basin where dogs and other animals can drink
- Replacing missing bluestone pavers on the terrace
- Re-planting the garden beds around the fountain
An Award-Winning Project
Catherine Truman Architects, the firm that led the project team, received a 2019 Civic Bulfinch Award for the restoration of the Lotta Fountain. The Bulfinch Awards, given by the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art New England, “recognize practitioners from across the nation who are committed to promoting excellence in the classical tradition and allied arts within New England.”
Other members of the team included:
- Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
- Halvorson Landscape Design
- Ivan Myjer Building and Monument Conservation
- Skylight Studios
- Architectural Engineers
- Brightview Commercial Landscaping
A Shady Place to Rest
Shaded by trees and shrubs, the Lotta Fountain gives dogs a place to drink clean water and humans a place to sit and rest. I’m sure that other animals, such as squirrels and pigeons, are happy to take a drink as well.
Congratulations to the Esplanade Association for making this restoration happen, to Catherine Truman Architects for their well-deserved Bulfinch Award, and to all the other firms that contributed to the project’s success.
Directions to the Lotta Fountain
The Lotta Fountain is located on the Charles River Esplanade between Berkley and Clarendon Streets, not far from the Arthur Fielder memorial. It’s pretty big — you can’t miss it.
(There are other Lotta Fountains in San Francisco, Chicago, and Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, where she had a summer house.)
The Esplanade is separated from the city by Storrow Drive and there is nowhere to park. Don’t even think about it. If you’re driving, park in the Common Garage on Charles Street and cross over the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge.
Turn left and walk down the footpath past the playground until you see the granite monument on your left. Or take the T’s Green Line to the Arlington stop and walk north on Arlington Street to the footbridge.