Studebaker fountain to be restored

Studebaker fountain to be restored. // WSBT 22

The historic Studebaker fountain got a big send-off Tuesday.

It's on its way to Ohio to be restored.

It's going to be a while before we see the fountain again. It will take about a year to fully restore the more than 100-year-old fountain.

When it's complete and returns to South Bend, its new home will be in the heart of Leeper Park.

Then once again it will serve its original purpose as a gathering place for the community.

In 1906, John Studebaker donated this cast iron fountain to the city of South Bend.

During World War II, the fountain was dismantled.

Many thought it had been melted down for scrap, but a local family rescued several pieces which were donated to the history museum.

Those parts now on the way to being fully restored.

"I hope it means a lot. We are giving them back literally part of their heritage. This is bringing back a magnificent icon and when its restored Mr. Podnar here says it'll last another hundred years at least," said Vicki McIntire, Studebaker electric fountain restoration co-chair.

Ohio based restoration company McKay Lodge Laboratory will oversee the project.

The missing parts will be recast using the original molds.

"I think this is characteristic about what's great about South Bend, which is we look to the future. We're fashioning sort of a new South Bend, but we're doing it in a way that's true to where we came from," said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Conservators say as custodians of history, it’s their duty to preserve and care for pieces like this for future generations.

"In my experience, whenever we do a project like this people reclaim the fountain, or the sculpture, or the monument and they reclaim it for themselves," said Tom Podnar, McKay Lodge Restoration Lab Chief Conservator.

When its done, the fountain will be 25 feet tall and with an added plaza 70 feet in diameter.

Nearly $650,000 was raised from donors in the community.

"The fountain is being returned to South Bend much in the same manner that it first arrived through the generosity of its residents," said Aaron Perri, executive director for Venues Parks and Arts.

City leaders says when it returns home the Studebaker Fountain will shine bright once again as a beacon of light for the city.

A permanent fund is being created that will provide maintenance for the fountain for the future.

City leaders say no formal decision has been made about the fate of the duck pond at Leeper Park.

They maintain that in its current state the duck pond is not the best solution for the welfare of the animals and the park.

A landscape architect is going to be hired to design the final plans for the park.

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