Restoration of Historic Fountain in Westfield Underway, Support Still Needed

Casey Huber (left), and Fredonia Boy Scout Troup 267 uncovering the 1820 gold fish pond. Over 80 conch shells were discovered in the dirt from the 1870s dirt fill. (submitted photo)
Casey Huber (left), and Fredonia Boy Scout Troup 267 uncovering the 1820 gold fish pond. Over 80 conch shells were discovered in the dirt from the 1870s dirt fill. (submitted photo)

WESTFIELD, NY (Aug. 31, 2015) – For many years a number of individuals in the Westfield area have wanted to restore the fountain to Moore Park and now it’s finally happening!

A fountain in front of the McClurg Mansion, which sits in the center of the park, was first created in the early 1820s, making it one of the earliest jet fountains in all of Western New York. James McClurg, early pioneer of Westfield, moved into his home in 1820. William Moore, McClurg’s grandson, stated in 1916, “He took much pride in this home, sending away for rare trees and shrubs, which he trimmed into ornamental shapes to adorn the grounds, and conveying water in pipes from springs half a mile distant to operate a large fountain in which gold fish were kept on the grounds.”

A reference to the fountain was recently found in a deed dated Feb. 13, 1855:

“… transfers to the Trustees of Westfield Village from McClurg a right of way for the purpose of digging up the earth and laying down pipe and constructing a closed water course for conducting water from the spring (Spring Street), on the lands of the said James McClurg to the reservoir near the springs and thence to the reservoir and fountain on the common in the village of Westfield where the same are now located (on the corner of Main and South Portage). …The said McClurg, reserving to himself all the surplus water over and above that quantity and also the privilege of taking out water from a point near the house to and for the use of his dwelling and for a small jett in his front yard.”

The McClurg Mansion, circa 1900.

                                                                                             The McClurg Mansion, circa 1900.

At some point after McClurg’s death in 1872, the fountain was turned off by the Village (who then controlled the reservoir). The earliest photo of the McClurg Mansion (taken during the mid-1870s) shows the base of the fountain with a flower urn sitting on top of it and the pond has been filled in with dirt. Since the 1950s, this space has been the round geranium garden.  It is believed that the metal base was removed during the World War II scrape metal drive.

The effort to bring back the fountain first began in 1989, when Eleanor Warner, a former school teacher/historian in Chautauqua County, gave a fountain to the Chautauqua County Historical Society (CCHS) to be placed in front of the Mansion. It is molded cast zinc, created by the Joseph W. Fiske Co. of New York City, c.1868. This fountain has been restored by Casey Huber, as part of his Eagle Scout Community Service Project.

The Moore Park Fountain project is a joint effort of individuals, businesses, community groups and public entities.

  • The lead agency is the Chautauqua County Historical Society.  The antique cast zinc fountain, electric (for security lights and cameras) and water will be provided by CCHS.
  • Bricks, which will surround the water basin, are being provided by the Village of Westfield and are left over from the Lincoln –Bedell Park project.
  • Westfield Nursery will be donating and planting the shrub rose garden surrounding the fountain pond.

No monies from either the Village of Westfield or CCHS will be used. The concept is to bring the community together to improve Moore Park, the center of the Village of Westfield, similar to the highly successful 1999-2000 Lincoln-Bedell park project.

The following contributions have already been received:

Memorials – Susie Huber Memorial Fund, Ferris Woleben Memorial Fund, James O’Brien Memorial Fund;

Businesses and Organization – Alpha Pi Sorority, Brazill’s on Main, Chautauqua County Volunteer Fire Service Auxiliary, Daughters of the American Revolution, The Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, Parkview Restaurant, Portage Pies, Westfield Nursery, Westfield Women’s Organization;

Individuals – Kathy Archer, Helen Baran, Dennis and Linda Barmore, Carolyn and Peter Bills, David and Sandra Brown, Joan Caruso, Roger and Deborah Chagnon, Jr., Marcia and Bill de la Cerda, Betsy Cleveland,  John Elliot, Phoebe Forbes, Loreen Ginnitti, Norman and Marilyn Golnitz, Nancy Hanks, Christopher and Nancy Hanks, Jack and Kathie Horst, Robert and Sandra Johnston, David and Carol Larson, Jessica Loring, Morris C. and C. Jean Meade, Beth Nefoske, Mary Norcross, Marilynne Northrup, Louise Quick, Fred and Georgiann Rizzuto, Mary Ellen Ross, Joan Smith, John Paul Wolfe, and Peter J. Wolfe.

A “photo-shopped” version of what the end McClurg Fountain Project might look like. This image was created by historical society trustee Robert Johnston.

                                                                                         A “photo-shopped” version of what the end McClurg Fountain Project might look like. This image was created by historical society trustee Robert Johnston.

Despite the outpouring of support, the Moore Park Fountain Project is still in need of more funding.

“We are only two thirds of the way and the contractor is scheduled to start the first week of September.  Please let us add your name to the above list with your friends and businesses,” explained CCHS Trustee and McClurg Museum curator John Paul Wolfe. “Moore Park is the center and heart of Westfield! Help make it the beautiful space it can be!”

Any individuals, community groups, organizations, and local businesses are being asked to participate in the fundraising. Contributions (tax deductible) can be mailed to Chautauqua County Historical Society, Box 7, Westfield, NY 14787, or online with a Credit Card of PayPal atwww.mcclurgmuseum.org.  Please make sure to note that your donation is for the fountain project.

Any questions concerning the project can be answered through the McClurg Museum at (716) 326-2977, e-mail:cchs@mcclurgmuseum.org, or call Wolfe, CCHS Trustee and McClurg Museum Curator at (716) 326-3714.

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