The Vision for a New Electric Fountain
The NEW 2008 Prismatic Electric Fountain
No one in the world has ever tried to re-construct a Darlington Electric Fountain with historical accuracy before. Since this was a demolition/rebuild project, every detail of the original fountain design had to be understood so that the new fountain would be a faithful replica of Darlington's design. In addition all current building codes needed to be met. To say that this was a challenging project with considerable surprises and revelations at every turn would be an incredible understatement.
The vision and passion to bring the wonders of the Electric Fountain back to Denver were shared by three people, without whom this project would not have happened:
Phil Yarter, President, YarterTek, longtime resident of Park Hill, genial agitator and general troublemaker (and I mean that in the best possible way!):
Phil made a proposal to the City of Denver in 1978 to restore the Electric Fountain. Despite many meetings, phone calls and urging, Phil had to wait 30 years to realize his dream. He never gave up hope that some day the City of Denver would come to its senses and do the right thing. Many thanks to Phil for his inspiration and support for this project and all of the great stories that go along with it. It was so nice to meet someone else who doesn’t take “NO” as the final answer.
Dick Gannon, Landscape Architect Supervisor, Denver Department of Parks and Recreation:
Dick “inherited” the Electric Fountain project in 1996. Through many false starts, disappointing results and lack of support, he continued to believe that one day the fountain would run again. Plans for restoring the fountain went through many revisions, but Dick’s perseverance kept the project on track, dealing with historic, design, funding and contracting aspects of the project.
When it became clear that the original 1908 fountain vault would have to be demolished and an entirely new one built, Dick got behind the project with full force. It is unlikely that there is anyone in the Department of Parks and Recreation who has ever worked harder to find creative ways to get a project funded and keep it moving. Without his intense personal commitment to the project, it never would have happened.
Larry Kerecman, Consultant and Principal Designer for the new 2008 Electric Fountain; owner, Control Dimensions:
“I began my love affair with fountains at a very early age when I saw the Dancing Waters fountains at the Wanamaker Department Store (Philadelphia) annual Christmas Light Show. Family visits to see the famous fountains at the DuPont family’s Longwood Gardens southeast of Philadelphia further piqued my interest in how water and light could be controlled to create a magical experience.
When I turned 40, I visited Denver to celebrate and rented a paddle boat on City Park Lake with a friend. I remember paddling like mad to get away from the fountain spray but I also remember looking at the crumbling concrete structure of the fountain vault and wondering why it had all those unused pipes. I had no idea of the rich history behind the fountain. Many years later when I moved to the Mayfair neighborhood of Denver I designed my first fountains for the residence of a prominent Denver area family. I also started to include fountain projects as part of my consulting and design practice including, curiously enough, for that same Christmas Light Show in Philadelphia .
While walking my dog in City Park in the spring of 2004, the crumbling concrete hulk in Ferril Lake, no longer squirting water, finally annoyed me enough that I went to the Department of Parks and Recreation to ask questions about it. Dick Gannon and Helen Kuykendall showed me the 1999-2000 plans to restore the fountain. But the project had been cut short due to the lack of funds - only the new pump station had been constructed.
From that initial meeting and some research at the Denver Public Library I discovered the amazing story of Frederic W. Darlington and his Electric Fountains. Most importantly, I discovered the upcoming centennial of the dedication of the 1908 Electric Fountain. After a boat trip to the fountain vault to see the almost ghostly rusting remains of the fountain I developed a passion to bring this City Park landmark and family favorite back to life in time for the centennial in 2008. Many hours of research, both in the library and on and in the fountain vault, went into “getting it right.”
I ended up working on every aspect of the design and reconstruction, including getting the plumbing and nozzles for the twelve Darlington water features re-created to produce water displays just like the early photos of the fountain in operation. I also established the Friends of the Electric Fountain Fund as a means to support the construction, operation and endowment of the fountain. My first three years of work on the fountain project were donated to the people of Denver and Colorado. I live here by choice and having wonderful civic amenities like the Electric Fountain make this a very special place to call home.
Many thanks to Dick Gannon for believing in and supporting my many ideas about rebuilding the fountain. WE DID IT!”
“The results have exceeded my wildest expectations, which were quite demanding to
If you and your family enjoy seeing the new Electric Fountain in City Park, please consider supporting the Fountain with a donation to the Friends of the Electric Fountain Fund. Your generosity will keep the fountain entertaining Denver residents and visitors for generations to come.
Larry Kerecman and Dick Gannon at the City Park Alliance open house at the Museum of Nature and Science in May, 2008. A copy of one of the original drawings for the 1908 Electric Fountain is displayed on the table.