History of the Lotta Fountain
For generations, the Lotta Fountain was a destination spot for dog owners visiting the Charles River Esplanade. It was a place where owners could relax and socialize while providing their canine friends with cool water on hot summer days. The six-foot granite fountain was designed and constructed by sculptor Katherine Lane Weems in 1939 in the name of entertainer and philanthropist Lotta Crabtree, for the benefit of people and their thirsty canine companions.
Located next to the Esplanade Playspace, the Lotta Fountain’s unique Art-Deco design included a fountain-fed pool for dogs and two bubblers for people. Additionally, the fountain incorporated granite benches for those relaxing in the park. As an ode to animal lovers, the fountain was decorated with a statue of a dog with the face of a cat and etched drawings of a duck and a rabbit. After construction, the fountain was moved to its present location in 1949 in preparation for the construction of Storrow Drive, but inoperative for many years.
Because the fountain was no longer functioning as it was originally, in 2015 the Esplanade Association began advocating and fundraising for the restoration of this historic sculpture.
Restoration of the Lotta Fountain
The fountain needed significant conservatorial and engineering repair after decades of neglect. The Esplanade Association raised the necessary funds to fully restore the Lotta Fountain to working condition.
This $358,000 project is a testament to our commitment to investing in capital improvements throughout the park, as well as ongoing maintenance. Maintenance to the Lotta Fountain will be funded by the Esplanade Association for the next ten years.
Repairs completed include:
- An operating fountain, with water spouting from the cat’s mouth into the pool below
- Cleaned and repointed granite
- Restoration to the cat’s face and dog’s ears
- Accessibility to the fountain for those with disabilities
- Installation of a bronze basin
- Replacement of missing bluestones on the terrace
- New plantings in the garden beds surrounding the fountain
Bulfinch Award Winner
Congratulations to Catherine Truman Architects, who led the team awarded a 2019 Bulfinch Award for the restoration of the Lotta Fountain. The Bulfinch Awards “recognize practitioners from across the nation who are committed to promoting excellence in the classical tradition and allied arts within New England”.
Congratulations also to the other members of the project team, including: the Department of Conservation, Halvorson Landscape Design, Ivan Myjer, Skylight Studios, Architectural Engineers, VHB, and Brightview.