In 1904, the Civic Association of Anderson, led by President Pearl Fant, initiated an effort to beautify the city and especially the grounds of the Anderson courthouse square. Among the additions to Anderson’s surroundings were the famed Buena Vista Park, banana trees and other exotic plants, and the iconic Robert Anderson Memorial Fountain. Cast in 1905, the iron fountain was formally installed and unveiled in 1906 on Anderson’s square. When originally erected, the fountain cost about $1,800. Excluding the water basin, the fountain weighs in at about 5,500 pounds and is just over 16 feet tall.
The name was chosen in honor of Revolutionary War Colonel and State Militia General Robert Anderson, also the namesake of the city and county. Designed by T. A. Wigington and C. C. Cole, much of the fountain was cast and constructed right here in Anderson by the Anderson Foundry and Steel Company. The cherubs were selected and ordered from a company in New York. Two of the existing cherubs are original zinc figures, with a third being an iron replica. By August 1906, the fountain was outfitted with lights and is believed to have been only the second in the world to have underwater electric lighting.
The Robert Anderson Memorial Fountain stood downtown for most of the twentieth century, being moved only slightly over that period. In a state of disrepair, the fountain was dismantled and put into storage in the early 1980s. In 2001, local citizens and businesses raised $45,000 to restore the fountain and reinstall it at the Anderson County Museum. Here it would become an artifact owned, preserved, and protected by the museum for future generations.
Braving the elements for well over 100 years the cast iron figures, along with some zinc components have stood the test of time. The iron structure has required treatments to combat rust, weather, and age. In July 2021, Anderson County contracted with the Warren Lasch Conservation Center at the Clemson University Restoration Institute in North Charleston, SC to begin the arduous task of dismantling the fountain for a $100,000 restoration. It traveled all the way to North Charleston to begin more than a year of conservation work and recoating.
We are proud to commemorate the return of the Robert Anderson Memorial Fountain to its home at the Anderson County Museum on this 19th day of July, 2022. Having received professional care, the fountain is yet again prepared to stand as a symbol of this city, this county, its people, and their history