Bartholdi Fountain  


This project involved the reproduction of twelve bronze lanterns for the restoration of the Bartholdi Fountain at the Botanical Gardens in Washington, DC.  Bronze was chosen for the iron fountain, built in 1876 for the Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia, as a more durable material for lighting use in the harsh fountain environment.  The original gas lanterns were removed almost 100 years ago and replaced with electrified glass globes.  Our task was to build a lantern which resembled the lanterns in period photographs and would weather the fountain environment.


We started by examining high resolution scans of period photos and scaling the lanterns based on known fountain dimensions.  Numerous changes were made along the way to prevent birds from nesting, promote water runoff and address various environmental issues and aesthetic concerns which cropped up along the way.   The bottom and the top cap received perforated stainless steel nesting/debris guards, A polished stainless steel reflector was fabricated to mimic a period-appropriate (but not durable) silvered glass reflector.


Most components were cast in bronze with a spun bronze lid, to keep the weight down.  A mockup was built, reviewed, modified and reviewed again.  The lantern was finished in the same system and colors (Tnemec) as the cast iron fountain.  Long teflon wiring harnesses were attached to each lantern to reach down through the fountain body to the NEMA 6 junction box in the base of the fountain.