Friday, April 3, 2009

Fountain Square Month

Friday’s Fountain Fact

A multi-part series documenting the current events taking place on Fountain Square as well honoring some of its history and details.

Rutherford B. Hayes’s Dedication Speech

While looking around the ‘I Love Cincy’ shop at Tower Place, I ran across a book that was a reprint of the 1872 book about the Tyler Davidson Fountain and its dedication on Probasco Place, the original name of Fountain Square. In it they have all kinds of information but the most glorious piece of information was for me no doubt Rutherford B. Hayes’s speech at the Dedication!

I will not transcribe the entire speech but allow me to give an excerpt or two. On October 6, 1871, the day of the dedication, R. B. Hayes was Governor of Ohio and he does not speak long. He begins:

“Fellow-Citizens: It is altogether fitting that the citizens of Cincinnati should feel a deep interest in the occasion which has called together this large assembly. It is well to do honor to this noble gift, and to do honor to the generous giver. This work lends a new charm to the whole city . . .”

“. . . But this fountain does not pour out its blessings for Cincinnati, or for her visitors and guests alone. Cincinnati is one of the central cities of the nation, and of the great continent. It is becoming a convention center . . . This monument is an instructor of all who come. Whoever beholds it will carry away some part of the lesson it teaches. The duty which the citizen owes to the community in which and by which he has prospered – that duty this work will forever teach . . .”

". . . But at some time and somehow the example here represented will and must be followed. All such deeds are the parents of other similar good deeds. And so the circle within the blessings flowing from this fountain are enjoyed will forever grow wider and wider, and the people of distant times and places will rejoice to drink as we now do, healthful copious draughts in honor of its founder. . .”

As interesting as his words are, it was during his speech the first set of temporary bleachers collapses. Yes, collapses. People are injured but there were no deaths and the speech and festivities continue. More bleachers fall later during later parts of the ceremony include those holding the City Council! The ceremony started at 11:00 AM and by noon, four sections fell! Reports are most had gotten off the bleachers by the time the last one fell. Can you imagine?!

So let’s just hope the stage doesn’t collapse at tomorrow’s Fountain Day!

"Raise the Rutherford!" is a continuing, slightly humorous series to raise awareness of Rutherford B. Hayes and erect a statue of him in Cincinnati.

Historic image from Library's Cincinnati Memory Project.

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