Some men duke it out in a gunfight, others by being more successful than their compatriots, but for one man, it meant he wanted his own fountain and, well, perhaps he was miffed because in his daily job as mayor of Portland (1879 until 1882), he had to look at the Skidmore fountain every day. So David P. Thompson commissioned the bronze Elk Statue which he donated to the city in 1900.
The fountain sits in the middle of Main Street between 3rd and 4th and is surrounded by two Park blocks (Chapman and Lownsdale squares) and, just like the Skidmore fountain, it contains stone basins that allow horses and dogs to drink from it. Now, think about that! The statue is in the middle of the road, so if a horse decides to take a drink you have an instant horse jam! While he contracted a noted artist, Roland Hinton Perry to design his Elk Statue, whose work adorns the Library of Congress and the dome of the Pennsylvania state capitol, the Exalted Order of Elks refused to dedicate it because they considered the statue “a monstrosity of art.”
In 1974, Thompson’s elk and the two Plaza Blocks were designated as Historic Landmarks after attempts were made to move it to a different location. When the statue was first installed, there were no one way streets in Portland, but now the direction of flow always sees the rear of the statue which is a shame.
There is also plenty to see in the adjacent park blocks, named Chapman Square and Lownsdale Square including several other statues, memorials, drinking fountains and just across Madison Street is the Terry Shrunk Federal Plaza which includes another fountain and statues. Descriptions of these will appear in future blogs.
To learn more about Portland’s wonderful fountains click here
Brought to you by Brian Bailey
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