About the Colony

Atascadero's famous fountains run dry

A few weeks ago I noticed that the four fountains around the newly restored City Administration Building were not flowing. Those fountains, not included in the rebuild of the city’s iconic administration building, underwent a restoration of their own once the main structure was completed less than a year ago.

Those fountains will be 100 years old soon, depending on when they were first turned on. The cornerstone for the city hall was set in place in June 1914. The building was substantially completed by 1916 (based on a front-page photo that appeared in the Atascadero News in January 1916) but not occupied until the summer of 1918.

Other than in pictures, I haven’t seen the fountains working in the 47 years I’ve lived in Atascadero. I’ve never met anyone who remembers them working. The cast concrete fountains have been filled with either weeds or flowers over the past four decades, and much longer.

So everyone was delighted when, during the work on the city hall, funds were found to also do some preliminary work on the fountains that anchor each corner of that structure. It only made sense to at least get the basic pumps and pipes in the ground while everything was torn up anyway.

As a result of some grants and public donations, money was found to do a complete restoration of those fountains, which included repairs to the urns, geese, turtles and other forms that were all part of this very early public art.

To everyone’s delight, the fountains were flowing when the building opened to the public last summer.

But now they’ve stopped and are dry once again.

I thought maybe they had been turned off in compliance with some kind of water-conserving gesture on the part of the city.

But City Manager Rachelle Ricard explained that the problem is that the paint used on the bottom of the ponds has been peeling off. Fortunately, the work is under warranty and they will be repaired and up and running in the near future.

For those of you who don’t know, there are five of those fountains in the city’s civic center. There are the four surrounding the city hall, and a fifth that was in front of the site of the famous Atascadero Inn on Traffic Way.

The half-buried fountain remains tucked in between the fire station and the Atascadero Fine Arts Academy, along with the steps and retaining wall from the old inn. This area was actually preserved about 25 years ago by two former Boy Scouts working on their Eagle Badges, brothers Yousif and Janez Seliskar

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.