Centennial Fountain on the Charles River Esplanade Will Return to the Dartmouth Street Lagoon in 2024

Special to the Sun

To mark 30 years since the installation of the Centennial Fountain on the Charles River Esplanade, the Esplanade Association (EA) is pleased to announce that the fountain’s long-dormant site within the Dartmouth Street Lagoon will be reactivated with a new programmable fountain next spring.

The prior fountain had been dedicated in 1993 with a bronze medallion on the nearby granite landing to hail the centenary of the Commonwealth’s Metropolitan District Commission (MDC). Founded in 1893, MDC is the precursor to our steward of the State Park System since 2003: the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). As the Esplanade is the most frequented State Park in the Commonwealth, and as 2023 has been an exceptional year of partnership with DCR, EA is thrilled that this installation of a new commemorative focal point will reanimate the park lagoon ecologically, aesthetically, and historically, and honor the ongoing commitment of our DCR partners season after season.

EA has used visuals on the medallion and from DCR and news archives to select a fountain that is historically accurate to the original, but with new features. Rather than continuous white lights and less efficient power, the new fountain will function with more ecologically sustainable systems and programmable LEDs. Expect more efficient water flows that enhance the lagoon’s water aeration and circulation to improve river ecology, increasing beneficial oxygenation and reducing harmful algae growth. EA will also have the capacity to present community-responsive light and water displays in ranging colors as a signal for national awareness causes, local team pride, holidays, programmed events, and more. 

EA’s James and Audrey Foster Executive Director Jen Mergel notes: “It has been a joy to work closely with DCR to steward our historic greenspace with contemporary upgrades that keep pace with our evolving park ecosystem and community input. This lit fountain not only echoes the majesty of the original monument, but its updated features will improve both the water habitat and social atmosphere of the park. The fountain will be a beacon that reaffirms the park’s purpose as a destination for connection—with nature and each other. By introducing dynamic displays, Dartmouth Street Landing can once again be notable destination for communal gathering, celebration, and commemoration. We are extremely grateful to the Lawrence and Lilian Solomon Foundation, especially emeritus EA board member David Solomon, for leadership support of this project.”

“DCR is committed to working with our partners to ensure we can fulfill our mission of protecting, promoting, and enhancing the state’s natural, cultural, and recreational resources for generations to come,” said DCR Commissioner Brian Arrigo. “The Esplanade Association has been a tremendous partner for many years, and we are excited to continue working together on the Centennial Fountain project, and future projects, that will bring new life to one of our most visited parks, the Esplanade.” 

Next Steps:

EA has secured funds to purchase a seasonal Aquamaster fountain. In 2024, when risks of fresh water freezing pass, EA will coordinate with local vendor Water & Wetland and DCR for annual seasonal installation and deinstallation. Be on the lookout for a Save the Date early next year for a Spring 2024 Ribbon Cutting!

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