The NHA Fountain in Lawrence, Kansas was a big deal right from the beginning. When Lewis Seaver from the National Humane Alliance visited to scout out potential sites, he is said to have said that, "Lawrence needed one worse than any other town he had visited." Mayor S. D. Bishop was an enthusiastic supporter and on March 21, 1910 the city voted to accept the Alliance offer of a fountain to be placed in the middle of the intersection of Warren and New Hampshire Streets. The street corners were rounded to make the area more accessible and Governor W. R. Stubbs even provided a light cluster for the top of the fountain.
And then the excitement really started as the city made plans for a dedication - probably the biggest in the history of the fountains. The date was set for August 31, 1910 and there was to be a very special guest speaker - former president Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was already in Kansas on that date dedicating a statue of John Brown in Osawatomie. A crowd of over 2,000 greeted him at the train station and a festive parade including bands, Civil War veterans, other dignitaries, and children carrying American flags headed off to the fountain site.
By the time Roosevelt rose to speak, the crowd had risen to more than 6,000. Many were there to hear of Roosevelt's plans for possibly running for president again. Governor Stubbs introduced him as, "...the foremost American citizen, a man greater than any king or potentate, one who has done more for this country than any one man...." Roosevelt did mix some politics into his speech but he did speak to the children about the kindness and gentleness that they should use in dealing with animals." And with that he was off to stay with Governor Stubbs in Lawrence for the evening.
Though the fountain was very popular, by 1929 it had been moved out of the way to Robinson Park. In 1965, the Lawrence Flower Club petitioned the city and had the fountain moved to its current position in South Park. TheSouth Park Gazebo was erected four years before the fountain arrived in Lawrence. In 1982, the fountain was cleaned and restored and it is there today with the water still flowing. Many people refer to the fountain as the Roosevelt Fountain because of Roosevelt's role in the dedication.
We want to thank Brittany Luna for contributing to this updated story. Click here for a video with some different views of the fountain.
Click here for news clippings about the fountain.
For more on the National Humane Alliance Fountains click here.