The Robert Anderson Fountain Restored
On July 19, 2021, the Warren Lasch Conservation Center at the Clemson University Restoration Institute in North Charleston, SC began the arduous task of dismantling the Robert Anderson Fountain for a complete restoration. Exactly one year later, Anderson County and the Anderson County Museum welcomed the fountain home. The Fountain now presides over the newly renovated museum Heritage Garden.
In 1904, the Civic Association of Anderson, led by President Pearl Fant, initiated an effort to beautify the city and especially the grounds of the Anderson courthouse square. Among the additions to Anderson’s surroundings were the famed Buena Vista Park, banana trees and other exotic plants, and the iconic Robert Anderson Memorial Fountain. Cast in 1905, the iron fountain was formally installed and unveiled to the people of Anderson in 1906 on Anderson’s square. When originally erected, the fountain cost about $1,800. Excluding the water basin, the fountain weighs in at about 5,500 pounds and is just over 16 feet tall.
The name was chosen in honor of Revolutionary War Colonel and State Militia General Robert Anderson, also the namesake of the city and county. Designed by T. A. Wigington and C. C. Cole, much of the fountain was cast and constructed in Anderson by the Anderson Foundry and Steel Company. The cherubs were selected and ordered from a company in New York. Two of the existing cherubs are original zinc figures, with a third being an iron replica. By August 1906, the fountain was outfitted with lights and is believed to have been only the second in the world to have underwater electric lighting.
The Robert Anderson Memorial Fountain stood in downtown Anderson for most of the twentieth century, being moved only slightly over that period. In a state of disrepair, the fountain was dismantled and put into storage in the early 1980s. In 2001, local citizens and businesses raised $45,000 to restore the fountain and reinstall it at the Anderson County Museum. Here it would become an artifact owned, preserved, and protected by the museum for future generations.
Braving the elements for well over 100 years the cast iron figures, along with some zinc components have stood the test of time. The iron structure has required treatments to combat rust, weather, and age. In July 2021, Anderson County contracted with the Warren Lasch Conservation Center to begin a $100,000 restoration of the fountain. It traveled to North Charleston to begin a year of conservation work and recoating. “We are thankful to Anderson County for believing in the importance of preserving our history,” said museum Executive Director Beverly Childs. “This $100,000 renovation will help protect and preserve the fountain for the next 100 years so future generations can enjoy its history.” The fountain stands as a symbol of this city, this county, its people, and their history.
The Anderson County Museum is located at 202 East Greenville Street, in downtown Anderson. The Fred Whitten Gallery and Whitner’s Emporium Gift Store hours are Tuesday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Roper Research Room is open 1 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and by appointment with the Curator. ACM is handicap accessible and admission is free. Donations are always welcome. For more information, contact the Museum at (864) 260-4737.