SOUTHINGTON — Until late last week, it had been well over a half-century since water last poured from the head of the Walkley Fountain and into its stone-lined basin.
A century ago, the historic fountain had been a centerpiece of a former park built by the late businessman and philanthropist Lucius V. Walkley, for whom it was named.
The fountain lay hidden for decades, partly buried in the backyard of an Elm Street home that was one of many to be built over the former park land. Then began an effort to restore the fountain and relocate it to the Plantsville Green, in front of Clocktower Square.
Town Councilor Paul Chaplinsky led the effort. It began in earnest around three years ago, when Chaplinsky and a group of volunteers received town approval to restore and relocate the fountain.
“This has been a community project,” Chaplinsky said. “It's very gratifying to see all the people that worked on it and finally come to life. I'm really happy with the results.”
Chaplinsky said he is excited to have the fountain in a public space, near the Green's gazebo, where people can see it and enjoy its history.
“I met a lot of great people who've stepped up, put shovels in ground, helped with the plumbing, stonework and the storage of the stones,” he said. “There's a lot of love and compassion in the community.”
The project included the design of a new plumbing system that supplies the fountain with recirculated water with a 1,200 gallon tank beneath it.
Kevin Rescildo, owner of Pondering Creations in Terryville, led that redesign effort, which included a new filter and an ion-generator to ensure the water is clean and bacteria-free.
“It's a one hundred percent custom job,” said Rescildo.
Before the fountain was relocated, it had sat inactive in the backyard of Reno and Barbara Pelletier's home on Elm Street.
Reno Pelletier said he and his wife's only stipulation when Chaplinsky approached them about moving the fountain was that it had to stay in Plantsville. He is pleased to see water flowing once again.
“It's beautiful,” he said. “It couldn't be any better.”
Town Council Chairwoman Victoria Triano offered similar remarks, saying, “The water's flowing and it's looking wonderful. Everyone benefits from something like that.”
Triano said the fountain's addition to the Green “gives character and an appreciation to those that came before us.”
Triano expressed excitement and gratitude for Chaplinsky's endeavor to restore the fountain.
“He formulated the whole rescue of that fountain. It was just in his heart,” Triano said. “I think it's wonderful to bring that fountain back to life.”
The project still has some work remaining, including the installation of a monument and signage, explaining the fountain and Walkley's local significance in Southington, Chaplinksy explained.
“I'm really excited,” he said. “Because Mr. Walkley was a prominent business person, inventor and politician. He donated a lot to the Southington community.”