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Conservation of the Robert Anderson Fountain Begins

fountain disassembly
Wed, 07/21/2021

On July 19th the Warren Lasch Conservation Center at the Clemson University Restoration Institute in North Charleston, SC began the arduous task of dismantling the Robert Anderson Fountain. Located at the Anderson County Museum, the fountain was cast in 1905 and first installed on Anderson’s square in 1906.

The fountain (minus the water basin) will travel to Warren Lasch in North Charleston to begin what will likely be an 18 plus month conservation. Braving the elements for well over 100 years the cast iron figures, along with some zinc components have stood the test of time. Over the years the iron structure has needed treatment to combat rust, weather and time. The last restoration effort was in 2002 when money was raised to have it restored and moved to the Anderson County Museum. At that time, it became an artifact owned by the museum. 

Beverly Childs, Executive Director of the Anderson County Museum says, “We are so excited and thankful for the opportunity to have Warren Lasch as the conservators for the fountain. They did the Conservation and Archaeological Study of the H. L. Hunley.  The museum owns more than 25,000+ artifacts in our collection. Most are one of a kind with the fountain being one of our largest items. The skills and expertise needed to preserve this artifact is certainly more extensive and involved than some of our others which our Curator Dustin Norris can preserve inhouse.”

Named for Revolutionary War Colonel and State Militia General Robert Anderson, the Civic Association of Anderson, led by President Pearl Fant, organized the effort to have the fountain created. The designers of the piece were T. A. Wigington and C. C. Cole. Parts of the fountain were constructed in Anderson by the Anderson Foundry and Steel Company while the Cherubs were ordered from a company in NY. Two of the zinc cherubs are original. The third is an iron replica.

The fountain cost about $1,800 when it was originally erected and will require about $100,000 to restore. Minus the water basin, the fountain weighs in at about 5,500 pounds and is just over 16 feet tall. It was considered one of the first outdoor sculptures in the world to have underwater lighting; very fitting for the Electric City! After conservation is complete, the fountain will return to its home at the Anderson County Museum.

Dustin Norris, Curator at the Anderson County Museum adds, “It is an honor to be part of this effort which will see the continued preservation of the Robert Anderson Memorial Fountain. The conservation will rejuvenate and protect the fountain from the elements, but it will also allow us to learn more about its construction, composition, and the history of its use over time. Our understanding of this artifact will grow as it is preserved for future generations.”

The Anderson County Museum is located at 202 East Greenville Street, in downtown Anderson. The Fred Whitten Gallery and Whitner’s Emporium Gift Store hours are Tuesday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Roper Research Room is open 1 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and by appointment with the Curator. ACM is handicap accessible and admission is free. Donations are always welcome. For more information, contact the Museum at (864) 260-4737.