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Dr. Henry Cogswell was a philanthropist who was very involved with the Temperance movement. He believed that if people had fresh and clean water to drink, they would be less likely to consume alcoholic beverages. His ultimate dream was to create one drinking fountain for every 100 saloons across the United States. The fountains were elaborate features that were designed by Cogswell himself, from granite.

The Cogswell Fountains are located in cites all throughout the United States. They can be found in Washington D.C., New York City, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Other features that have since been removed were located in cities like Buffalo, Rochester, Boston, several locations in California, and Massachusetts.  The Women’s Christian Temperance Union actually adopted the idea of a water feature as a way to combat saloons.

These statue fountains were not exactly well received in the cities where they were placed. The Temperance Fountain, in Washington D.C., was actually referred to as the cities ugliest statue in the city. As a result of the Temperance, city councils created fine art commissions across the country to screen such “gifts”. The D.C. statue remained unscathed more or less, but the one in San Francisco was not so lucky. In fact, it was torn down by a “lynch party of self-proclaimed art lovers”. A Cogswell statue in Iowa was pulled down by a group of vandals in 1900.They actually buried the statue under the ground of a planned sidewalk.

One of the most famous outdoor fountains, the Temperance Fountain, in Washington, D.C.  was donated in 1882. This feature has four stone columns that supported a canopy. The canopy features the words “faith” “hope” “temperance” and “charity” engraved onto it. There is a life sized heron over the canopy, with the focal point being a pair of heraldic scaly dolphins that are entwined. The fountain was intended for public drinking, and had a brass cup attached to the fountain for drinking, and the overflow went into a horse trough. However the city was tired of having to refill the ice beneath the base and decided to disconnect the supply pipes.

Originally located at Seventh and Pennsylvania Avenue, near the “hookers division”, the fountain sent the message to drink water and not whiskey. It was then moved in 1987 about 100 feet north of its original home. Moving it was not a big deal since the piece was not well received anyway. Currently it sits at Seventh and Indiana Avenue, located across from the National Archives. The Cogswell Society is a group of Washington Professionals who choose to take care of the fountain, having it added to the Downtown Historic District National Register in 1984.