Vicki McIntire loves the Studebaker Electric Fountain at Leeper Park. It has been part of her life since 2016 or so. A friend invited her to lunch to talk about the fountain.
That’s how it became part of her life ― she went to lunch. “I had no idea it would become a full-time job.” She was the chair and the chief cheerleader.
Her work with the Friends of the Studebaker Fountain Committee was recently recognized by two organizations ― Studebaker National Museum and Indiana Automotive, which is an affinity group of Indiana Landmarks.
The award from the Studebaker Museum was given at the Hall of Champions dinner. In addition to the award given to Vicki, Pat and Sue Ruszkowski were recognized for a capital campaign that generated funding for the new museum in 2005. Pat became the founding chairman for the Studebaker National Museum Foundation, a post he still holds today.
As for the fountain, the Indiana Automotive Heritage Award recognized the Friends of Studebaker Fountain’s extraordinary efforts to rescue and revive a landmark tied to the city’s auto manufacturing industry.
“With its fascinating backstory and inspiring restoration, the Studebaker Fountain is a great example of historic preservation,” Indiana Landmarks President Marsh Davis says. “It’s gratifying to see a piece of the city’s automotive heritage" return to its place of honor.
Vicki said it was nice for the Friends to be recognized. The group raised money, got people excited and had a marvelous unveiling in 2019.
But the work continues. The lights at top of the fountain are not working. Vicki said they are exploring the right approach to lighting and keeping the lights on. “We want to do it right. We have no date (for completion) for this,” she said.
She said she knows more about GFI (ground fault interrupters for the lighting) than she expected.
Since the initial unveiling, the fountain got clogged up with minerals. It needed to be cleaned and a water softener was installed earlier this year to get the little turtles working again.
A little background on the fountain. The fountain was commissioned by John Studebaker, who was president of the Studebaker Wagon Works. John took a wagon to the U.S. Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. J.L. Mott Iron Works had a fountain there for perusal.
Taken with the idea of a decorative fountain, John Studebaker ordered one. The fountain was installed in 1906 in Howard Park. It was 28 feet tall by 34 feet wide. Thousands of people attended the unveiling.
By 1941, the fountain had fallen on bad times and was dismantled by the city park department. One rumor said the fountain had been melted down for the war effort.
Later on, some of the fountain parts ended up in an Osceola backyard. In 2009, those fountain figures were donated to The History Museum.
In 2015, a group of community leaders and advocates, organized and raised $650,000 to rebuild and maintain it. Some fountain parts could be repaired while others had to be manufactured. The original company closed in the 1930s. The Robinson Iron Corp., of Alexander City, Ala., owned the original molds and McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratories completed the work.
Vicki said everyone loves the fountain. “I have people tell me they walk past it every day with their dog. About 99% love it, 1% ask about the lights. I’m staying with this until it is done,” Vicki said.
Hall of Fame inductions
Nine local citizens known for philanthropy, service, devotion and skills will be inducted into the South Bend Community Hall of Fame. The banquet will be Oct. 11 at Century Center. The receptions will begin at 5:30 p.m.
The individuals will be honored for their service to the community.
The individuals are: Joseph Donnelly, Ambassador to the Holy See and former U.S. senator; Alfred. J Guillaume Jr., retired executive vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at Indiana University South Bend and community activist; Jon and Sonja Laidig, business owners and philanthropists; Edward Levy, businessman, entrepreneur and volunteer; Muffet McGraw, retired women’s basketball coach, University of Notre Dame; Patrick and BJ Magley, founders of Heroes Camp; and Roberta Spencer, hospice counselor, volunteer and hospital chaplain.
Four community awards also will be presented. Dave Cherrone, long-serving Clay Fire Territory assistant chief, will receive the Ideal Baldoni Service Award. The Washington High School girls basketball team will be honored with the Distinguished Achievement Award.
Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts will receive the Corporate Contributions to Education Award for its children’s theater productions.
The Youth Service Bureau will be honored with the Distinguished Community Service Award for service to youth and teens.
South Bend Alumni support education in the South Bend schools by funding extra- and co-curricular activities that are not tax funded. For every grant awarded, the student group is required to perform community service. It is a learning activity for the groups. The service events instill community awareness.
For details and registration for the hall of fame dinner, visit the SBAA website, https://southbendalumni.com/events/.
Contact Kathy at email@example.com
This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: Studebaker Fountain Committee honored. South Bend inducts 9 into hall