LIMA — Faurot Park once again has a water feature for children, but its original fountain dates to the 1920s.
The Faurot Park playground was dedicated in 1913.
“The playground will be near the center of the park, south and west of the large mound. A wading pool will be formed near this mound,” a May 19, 1912, newspaper story reported.
It was formally dedicated June 1, 1913, with quite a celebration by the Lima Civic League.
“Under a fleckless sky ‘neath which shone a burning sun, 1,200 Lima kiddies frolicked and munched ice-cream cones at Faurot Park yesterday afternoon in the formal opening of the children’s playgrounds and members of the Lima Civic League beamed with pleasure at having realized their long-cherished dream — that of a playground where children play and are taught to play,” a June 1, 1913, story reported. “Twelve hundred little urchins — dirt-begrimed street waifs and ‘fluffy-ruffled’ children from the fashionable homes of the west end — all enjoyed the opening, rubbed elbows and played together in the same sand pile. And children of every class and description waded in the same shallow wading pool, mounted the giant slide and heaved back and forth in the same swings. And all were happy. Faces beamed with excitement and happiness and the opening was in the vernacular of the street — ‘bully.”
The playground even had hired supervisors. In 1914, a story listed that Mrs. F.L. Kah was matron and would be on the grounds from 11 a.m. until sunset. The hours were later much more limited.
“Despite the distance to the city park, there is a large representation of Lima’s kiddies every morning at the opening hour, and the number increases as the day progresses,” a July 29, 1917, story reported. Playgrounds were much promoted in those days as a way to offer children a chance to be children and have healthy play time.
But the Faurot Park wading pool, part of the original park plan, did not come to be until the 1920s. Nathan L. Michael, a local clothing merchant, left an $180,000 estate.
“A combination wading pool and fountain at Faurot Park, the gift of the late N.L. Michael, prominent businessman and philanthropist, will be installed in the very near future, it was learned Monday. … The heirs of the estate have been working on the project for some time and after visiting New Orleans decided to install a wading pool and fountain similar to one in that city which was left to the city by a millionaire,” a July 25, 1927, story reported.
Two fountains in New Orleans were funded in 1915 and finished in 1921 by Weiblen Marble and Granite Works. They were gifts of Sara Lavinia Hyams, who bequeathed some of her fine art of the New Orleans Museum of Art and her jewelry to go toward the wading pools for children. Her father was involved with the Times-Picayune and she inherited considerable means. One fountain is in Audubon Park — now neglected — and the other well-kept pool is in City Park.
They were done in similar styles, with an upper bowl from which water flows into a long, shallow pool.
Lima’s brown marble fountain in Faurot Park lifts this style almost exactly, down to its fish whose mouths spewed water. It was dedicated May 30, 1929, and is inscribed: “Given to the little children of Lima by Nathan L. and Rose Michael, March 18th, 1926, as a testimonial of love for their home city. They loved the beautiful and gave that all might enjoy.”
In 2006, the city announced it was starting work on renovating the Michael fountain, but the project was refocused to become the current splash-pad type fountain the park has today.