Shemanski Fountain (Rebecca at the Well)

Shemanski Fountain, on the Park blocks between SW Salmon and Main, is also known as Rebecca at the Well.  One of my personal favorites because I’ve always had a fascination with old wells and thinking about all the different ways people in the distant past had to get their water!  This lovely fountain was a gift to the city from Joseph Shemanski.  The city of Portland was so kind to Shemanski that in 1926 he gave the city a fountain to show his appreciation!   The designer of the fountain was Carl L. Linde.  The fountain’s design is Italianesque trefoil.   The cast stone structure that surrounds the bronze sculpture was designed by Oliver Laurence Barrett.

Shemanski came to Portland as a clock salesman and left as a successful businessman.   According to the stories, the Shemanski Fountain is also called Rebecca at the Well because Rebecca offered to draw water for Abraham’s servant and many camels, possibly as much as a half-ton of water.  By providence, Rebecca’s act of kindness and service reveled her as a bride.

The Water Bureau partnered with the Regional Arts and Culture Council, or the RCC, in 2004 to restore this serene landmark.   Unfortunately the Water Bureau was forced to repair the fountain again when vandals pushed the figure of Rebecca off her base in 2007. Rebecca suffered extensive damage and repair work cost the city thousands of dollars. The lovely Rebecca came into contact with one of the drinking fountain bowls while falling, which in turn broke off some of the sandstone casting that encases the bronze bowls. It took several months in a shop to complete restoration. The recast base and statue were re-installed onto the fountain and Rebecca was turned back on for the public to enjoy on September 20th, 2007.

Another tragedy with Rebecca, early in 2008, was when the Water Bureau was forced to shut-down the entire fountain! Thieves stole the brass nozzles off the fountain’s bowls.    Unfortunately, due to the age of the nozzles, off-the-shelf replacement parts were unavailable. The bureau had to remove another nozzle and have a mold of it recast.

To learn more about Portland’s many wonderful fountains, click here

Brought to you by Brian and Glenda

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