Friday, October 16, 2009

The Kilgour Peace Offering

 Kilgour Fountain at Hyde Park Square [1901].
Image source.

In relation to the last post (and the importance of constructing something tall as a central locator and gathering place for the neighborhood), here's a little more info on the history of the Hyde Park Square fountain & esplanade:
"Appeasement rather than gratitude was one reason for the construction of the fountain... The work, designed by Joseph F. Cronin, was a gift in 1900 from the Kilgour family. The Kilgour brothers were part of the syndicate that developed the triangle of land between Madison Road, Observatory Avenue and Edwards Road around the turn of the century.

"Dubbed 'Genevieve' by generations of residents... The Kilgour Fountain was a gesture of good will to calm furor caused by the extension of the trolley tracks from Delta Avenue to Madison Road, disrupting the tranquility of a few bordering streets. In addition, the farsighted syndicate wanted to beautify the shopping district planned to be in walking distance of their developed property." (Source: Cincinnati Magazine [September 1975].)
Amazing. The fountain was a gift to the neighborhood from the Kilgours because of the disruptive nature of construction of the local public trolley line.  A far cry from today's world.

The Kilgours were a major presence in the area of the time: John Kilgour, a wealthy Cincinnati banker & President of the Cincinnati Street Railway, and his brother, Charles Kilgour, a wealthy real estate investor & street railway engineer. They helped to develop Hyde Park into an area strictly for the wealthy, contributing the land for the Cincinnati Observatory (moved from Mt. Adams, which also gave Mt. Lookout its name), and dedicating the "Kilgour Esplanade" (Hyde Park Public Square) to the village of Hyde Park (July 21, 1900). 
Sources: City of Cincinnati - Parks Dept, Cincinnati Enquirer, and "Cincinnati: A Guide to the Queen City and its Inhabitants" by the Federal Writers' Project (p.306, 307).

Read a short history on the development of Hyde Park by the Hyde Park Neighborhood Council, and Mt. Lookout's history at the Mt. Lookout Community Council & P&G.

• Current info on Hyde Park at soapbox!, and a great photo of "Genevieve" here.

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Finally, here a couple more recent photos of the fountain getting its Fall bath before closing down for the colder months...or maybe just a good old fashioned soap tagging by those wild and crazy neighborhood kids:

All photos taken 9/25/9.


VisuaLingual said...

That's fascinating -- a fountain as a peace offering of sorts.

Anonymous said...

Cronin may have designed the installation, but the Venus figure likely was produced by the Mott Foundry. She appears on Mott's 1875 catalogue and other castings can be found throughout the country.

Matt said...

Interesting. Thanks for the info.