Water Flows

New fountain symbolizes life, activity in city’s downtown


As the ceremonial ribbon was cut in front of Crawford Fountain, water also began to flow from the new structure at the corner of Green and Main streets.

“This is far more than a mere fountain,” said Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton to those who gathered Wednesday at Marie Canine Plaza for the opening ceremony. “It symbolizes the life and activity that exists in our downtown.”

The original fountain was built in 2003 and was repaired several times over the years, specifically in 2015 and 2021, due to mischief and aging of the structure.

A new fountain was the dream of many, especially Sue Lucas, director of the Crawfordsville Main Street organization. After the latest repair, CMS board members and others in the community began in earnest to raise the needed funds to replace the fountain.

Lucas said Cody Hargis, who had received a Mission Value Award from Hoosier Heartland State Bank, initiated the fundraising with the donation of his monetary award.

Funding then came from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation as well as donations from corporations, private individuals, and the Montgomery County Community Foundation.

The new fountain pays homage to the Crawford Hotel which stood at that corner for 72 years. The hotel was damaged by fire and demolished in 1971. The site later became a parking lot with minimal landscaping. Two decades ago, the city gave up half of the parking lot for the creation of the plaza and fountain.

Today’s new fountain incorporates local history.

Lucas shared the story
of how a young Ken Turchi, a 1976 Crawfordsville High School graduate, rescued the Crawford Hotel emblem from the rubble during demolition. Turchi later donated the piece to the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County. The piece was recently loaned to Tom Fansler, president of Tiii Environments/Smock Fansler Corp. and project manager. His company made a replica of the emblem so that it could be included in the design of the new fountain. It can be seen on four sides of the base of the fountain.

“The Crawford Hotel is back, to a degree, at the corner Green and Main streets in downtown Crawfordsville,” Lucas said.

She was not alone in reminiscing.

Barton, a former firefighter and fire chief, said the site has always held a personal fascination. He spoke of the lessons of sacrifice Capt. William King imparted when he lost his life battling a fire at the hotel on New Year’s Eve 1971. A memorial plaque remains at the site honoring the firefighter’s sacrifice.

Barton thanked those early CMS board members who took that story and heritage and evolved it into a rebirth.

“They saw that we needed something different in the downtown,” Barton said. “At a time when everyone else was calling for more parking lots and concrete, they knew we needed a green space.”

Since then, the plaza has hosted a variety of community events and has been a gathering place for the past 20-plus years.

“We all understood that this memorable corner was ready to speak to new generations of citizens and visitors, and it would speak about how Crawfordsville, as the mayor said, values its historic district and invests in efforts that preserve its past while investing in the stories written today,” Lucas said.

Steve McLaughlin, CMS board president, also recognized and thanked board members, past and present, as well as the donors who made the project possible.

“I know we have had a lot of anticipation for this project, a lot of work has gone into that, but beyond that, we must recognize the work of the prior board that made this all possible back in 2003,” he said.

McLaughlin thanked Jack and Marie Canine, MCCF, Banjo, Crawfordsville Electric Light & Power, Indiana American Water, Walmart Optical, Lincoln Bank, Dr. Les Hearson, Brad and Becky Hurt and the city for its initial support.

He described the new fountain as impressive.

“If you think it’s beautiful now, you should see it at night,” he said.

The ceremony also included recognition of build team partners: Tiii Environments, Smock Fansler Corp., Sutherlin Lawn Care, Hutson Lawn Services, Haybush Electrical, CEL&P, City of Crawfordsville, Main Streets Design Committee, Montgomery County Carnegie Museum, Keesee & Sons for the pergola rehabilitation, CMS boards 2021-2024, Lucas and Turchi.

Fountain project donors recognized included: the City of Crawfordsville, Nucor Steel of America, CMS, Hearson, Montgomery County Visitors & Convention Bureau, Lakeside Book Co., Tri-County Bank & Trust Co., MCCF and Marie Canine Fountain Pass Through Fund Donors — Austin and Lucy Brooks, Dr. Tobey and Peggy Herzog and Wade and Michelle Janssen.