Efforts Underway to Restore Virginia’s Historic Fountain

Community Hopes to Restore Historic Fountain on Iron Range

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Built in 1937 the fountain was famous for its sprays filled with color.

If you ask almost anyone on the east end of the Iron Range they’ll tell you all about it.

“When I was young coming by here with my mother and father, looked at the lights they were colored and it went up at least 30 feet,” Virginia City Councilor Carl Baranzelli said.

Standing in the Olcott Park the illuminated fountain was constructed to provide work during the Great Depression and be a drawing card for Virginia.

“There were people from all over the area that came here,” Olcott Park Fountain Restoration Committee chair Greg Gilness said. “They had traffic jams out in the front because so many people wanted to come see the fountain.”

Fast forward to the 80’s.

“Eventually the parts were not available anymore,” said Gilness.

All the tax money from the mining operations dried up along with the city’s budget.

“The city had to make it’s choices you know,” said Gilness. “Repair the streets or repair the fountain. Those streets come first.”

Now boarded up and no longer spewing 360 variations of lights per hour the fountain is dormant and has fallen victim to vandals over the years.

“They took the power box away, there you can see the bare wires,” said Baranzelli.

The Olcott Park Fountain Restoration Committee wants to keep the piece of history alive.

They’re asking the community to help them restore its shock and awe.

“This was beautiful when it was new and we have to get it back up and running,” said Baranzelli.

Nine-hundred thousand dollars is needed for a new pumping system, sidewalks, security cameras and landscaping to get it back to what it used to be.

“It probably will increase some traffic,” said Gilness. “People will bring their young kids to see it at night just like my parents did for us.”

The committee is hoping to have the fountain up and running by 2017.

If you would like to donate head over to http://virginiafoundation.com/

Renovations for the fountain will be done in stages.

Committee members tell FOX 21 if they are not able to raise all of the $900,000 dollars they will scale back the project.
 

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