Portland park restoration provides a fountain of delight

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PORTLAND — It was an event that made Frank Reilly bubbly.

“I am thrilled, it is beautiful to see the people walking through,” he said Oct. 11 as Lincoln Park was rededicated for public use.

As leaders of the Friends of Lincoln Park, Reilly, and his wife, Sharon Reilly, were also front and center for the splashy climax of the ceremony as the restored park fountain gurgled to life.

The Oct. 11 celebration highlighted that restoratoin of the city’s first public park, bounded by Pearl, Congress, Franklin and Federal streets, has only finished its first phase. City Parks Director Ethan Hipple said the original park fence will be restored and a dozen new trees planted in 2018.

The centerpiece is the fountain, added in 1871, five years after Lincoln Park was created in the aftermath of the 1866 fire that destroyed a swath of the city’s peninsula.

It sits in a reconstructed basin with new plumbing, but what distinguishes the fountain is the spire added to it by conservation specialist Jonathan Taggart in his Georgetown workshop.

The spire almost exactly matches the original spire for the fountain, which was cast in Paris at the Val d’Osne Foundry, and was discovered at Whitehall on the Villa Antiques, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

It was shipped north in April 2016 as the Friends sought $170,000 in donations for the restoration and basin work. On Oct. 11, Hipple presented the Reillys with a piece of the old basin, although he asked for it back so it can be engraved.

Water coursing through the fountain’s center now sprays from the top down through three levels to a base adorned with sculptures of children.

The fundraising effort continues, too, with the Friends seeking $5,000 in donations to dedicate 23 cast-iron benches, Reilly said.

The city has also committed $300,000 in capital improvement spending to restore walkways, the fence and add trees.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

The first splashes of the restored Lincoln Park fountain in Portland draw cheers Oct. 11 from Sharon and Frank Reilly of the Friends of Lincoln Park and city Parks Director Ethan Hipple, center.

The restored spire of the fountain at Lincoln Park in Portland, left, is a close match to the original, right, which was installed in 1871.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.