Evanston aldermen Monday night are scheduled to discuss proposed renovations to Fountain Square — the traditional center of downtown.

Public Works Director Suzette Robinson is scheduled to present a report on the “deteriorated infrastructure” in the square.

The current fountain and the plaza around it was constructed in 1976 to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial — one hundred years after the first fountain was installed at the site.

The first fountain on a traffic island in the square in a postcard image from about 1930.

Just seven years ago, in 2007, the fountain was in a dire state and and the city spent nearly a half million dollars the next year to get it operating again.

In the mid-1940s the City Council decided to replace the original fountain with a new war memorial fountain, a project which also involved removing the traffic island and reconfiguring the square to its present shape.

The second fountain, designed by Hubert Burnham, was dedicated in 1949.

A 1960s postcard view of the war memorial fountain. (Postcards from Evanston: Postcard History, by Mimi Peterson.)

Since about 1950 the original cast iron centennial fountain has stood in the Merrick Rose Garden at Lake Street and Oak Avenue. It, too, has undergone several restorations over the years.

The Centennial Fountain in the Merrick Rose Garden.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. fountain square

    The city is hardly awash in money!  Revamping Fountain Square sounds frivolous.  Surely  a more worthwhile project can be found!

  2. Buildings

    Why did we get rid of the buildings from 1930 through 1970. Forget the fountain. It will not bring back Evanston's beautiful downtown.

    1. Old buildings
      The Rood Building, on the left in the 1930s photo, burned in 1946, and was replaced by the Fountain Square Building seen behind the fountain in the 1960s photo.
      The Lord’s Department store, at the center of the 1930s image, went out of business in the 1960s, and State National Bank, seen on the right, developed the tower now on the corner.
      — Bill

  3. Fountain

    Alas, the photos of 1930's and 1950's Evanston are charming!  Makes me wonder what went wrong with urban planning in subsequent years.  Money allocated toward beautifying one of the more prominent eye sores in this city would be well spent, in my opinion.  And yes, there are certainly other issues that need attention AS WELL.  

  4. The original is actually on

    The original is actually on display at the Evanston History Center. The fountain in Merrick Rose Garden is a replica that replaced the aging original in 1912.

    1. Fountain durability

      Interesting … so it looks like fountains in downtown Evanston tend to last less than 40 years …

      1876 to 1912 … 36 years (original centennial fountain)

      1912 to 1949 …. 37 years (replica centennial fountain) (and after relocation, rebuilt again in 1988)

      1949 to 1976 … 27 years (war memorial fountain)

      1976 to 2014 … 38 years (bicentenial fountain).

      — Bill

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