We have an opportunity to bring back a forgotten Watertown icon...
One evening last November a drunken motorist in a pickup truck took out the fountain at Lachenauer Plaza on the American Corner in Watertown. Shortly after the incident city officials announced the fountain would be repaired and, come spring, would be re-erected in the plaza.
I've never liked that fountain. I don't believe it fits the character of the Public Square area of downtown. It's a cold, unfeeling, hard-hearted tribute to Urban Renewal - a time in Watertown (the 1960s) when the city fathers took "advantage" of a federal program to destroy much of the architectural history of the city.
The days of Urban Renewal saw the wrecking ball take down one magnificent Victorian era structure after another - City Hall, the Armory, the Avon Theater and blocks of business buildings on Court and Arsenal streets. On Washington Street the lovely White House Inn came down. Later, in the 70s, the Hotel Woodruff was demolished leaving a gaping blank spot on the Square. And let's not forget the loss of our beautiful train station when Penn-Central discontinued passenger service.
Up went ugly modernist and brutalist architecture and acres of parking lots. The soul of the city was lost to concrete boxes and blacktop slabs.
I have a proposal. If city officials are determined to re-erect the Lachenauer Plaza fountain how about relocating it to the grounds of City Hall where the brutalist fountain would actually compliment the modernist architecture of our municipal headquarters.
Concerning a replacement fountain for Lachenauer Plaza I think one of two ideas put forth recently should be considered. The first idea, one I've mentioned on Watertown's Morning News on several occasions, is to build a new fountain, constructed of rock from the Black River. The other idea, proposed by Dr. Jason White, would see the re-assembly and re-instillation of a forgotten monumental drinking fountain. It was removed from the Square in the 1940s and has been little more than a pile of rubble hidden away at Thompson Park ever since.
With just a bit of public pressure I think the new council could be persuaded to change the look of Lachenauer Plaza for the better. It would go a long way toward resuscitating the heart and soul of our beautiful city.