Arcade Fountain Sadly Missed

12 Jan 1894 — Grand Rapids Democrat, page 4


Words of an Old Song Recalled — Other Wells Have Tap the Vein and the Waters no Longer Freely Flow.

The Arcade Fountain illustration 1894. The spiral staircase would lead up to the offices in Powers’ Opera House Block.

The Arcade Fountain illustration 1894. The spiral staircase would lead up to the offices in Powers’ Opera House Block. The stage entrance would be to the left of these stairs.

“You will never miss the water until the well runs dry.” The words of the old song I recalled by the fact that the Arcade fountain has gone out of business. For year past it’s flow has been feeble, yet strong enough to supply all demands upon it, last week it gave a last gurgling gasp and disappeared.

For nearly a score of years the Arcade fountain has been a blessed institute in this city. In summer heat and winter cold, in daytime and at night it has flowed on without ceasing and thousands upon thousands have sought it’s refreshing presence. It has been one of the city’s greatest benefactions and the multitudes who have drank of it’s cooling waters have paid tribute to the public spirit of Messrs. (William Thompson & William Henry) Powers, who have through the years maintained it.

The fountain is supplied by an artesian well sunk many years ago in the hope of finding salt when first put down the flow was so young that the water ascended to the second story of the (Powers’ Opera House) Block. As time passed new wells were sunk in various parts of the city. One was put down for the benefit of the Fuller Block on Canal Street the Eagle Hotel had one and the Phoenix Furniture Company and the Leonard Refrigerator Company bored into the earth to strike the same source of supply. They all struck it. With each new well put down the flow of the Arcade diminished. The Leonard well was the last to be put down and it caused almost a total collapse of the Arcade fountain, which for years have been going spasmodically, the water rushing out as though as forced up by the throbbing of a great heart.

The water now rises scarcely above the basement floor, ten or fifteen feet below the level of the fountain above. As no new wells have lately been put down it is possible that, the difficulty in a measure may be remedied. The Fuller well has never been cased and there has always been a heavy loss in consequence. It is possible if the Fuller well is properly fixed and if all the other wells tapping the same vein of water are looked after to guard against leakage that the Arcade fountain may flow again. It is dry now, however, and it has never been appreciated so highly as it is at the present time. Its loss is justly considered a calamity to the multitudes and it will be sadly missed by thousands.

Research is Ongoing …

It was timely that The Arcade Fountain was still in operation, and instrumental in saving the Powers’ Opera House Block from completely burning to the ground just a year and a half earlier in June 1892. It is uncertain at this time if the Arcade artesian well ever flowed again. The construction for the Arcade artesian well began in January 1873. It was sunk just opposite the Rood Block about where 616 Lofts on Pearl Street entrance is off of The Arcade.

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