1916 Confederate Soldiers' Memorial Fountain
|Removed by the Helena City Commission in 2017
The Algeria Shrine Temple seen from Hill Park, ca. 1930. In the foreground is the Confederate Fountain, donated to the City of Helena in 1916 by the Daughters of The Confederacy to commemorate Confederate Army victims of the Civil War. Until 1926, it was the northernmost Confederate memorial in the U. S., (a memorial in Seattle's Lake View Cemetery now has that distinction). The fountain underwent several repairs and restorations in the years before it was removed.
In August of 2017, following a Charlottesville, Virginia demonstration over the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, in which one person was killed and 19 others injured, eight members of the American Indian Caucus of the Montana Legislature called on the City of Helena to remove the fountain because it honored the memory of dead Confederate soldiers, and was therefore somehow racist. None of the eight members of the American Indian Caucus lived in or represented Helena.
On August 16, the City of Helena held a public hearing on the proposed removal of the fountain. Emotions were high, and the topic became quite heated on social media. State and local historians publicly opposed the fountain's removal.
On August 18 2017, workers removed the fountain to a City utility building. Several protesters were present at the removal. Two people were arrested by police at the scene, one of whom was a serious protester, the other apparently just drunk. The disassembled fountain now sits under tarps, in a field, at an undisclosed location.
An Early Photo of the Confederate Soldiers' Memorial Fountain
Great Northern Railway Depot and Trainyard in the Background
DAVID POOR COLLECTION
Dedication, Helena Daily Independent, Sept. 6, 1916
Given To Helena With Fitting Ceremony
Present Memorial Structure.
Large Crowd Hears Talks.
$2,000 Memorial Placed at Highest Point in Hill Park to
Beautify Rest Spot
Miss Young MakesSpeech of Presentation.
With fitting ceremony, the beautiful fountain recently placed
in Hill park was presented
to the city of Helena last evening by the Daughters of the
Confederacy in Montana. City Attorney Edward Horsky, acting
for Mayor R. R. Purcell, who was unavoidably absent, accepted
the gift after an address of presentation by Miss Georgia
C. Young. The emblem is a splendid contribution to the beautification
of the park
given to the city some years ago by the later James J. Hill.
A gathering of a couple of hundred Helenaites joined about
the new structure to listen to the evenings program.
Several Confederate veterans were present in places of honor.
A short program, with a few necessary formalities, was applauded
by the patriotic crowd. When the impressive monument was
unveiled a long demonstration followed, giving the fountain
a most hearty welcome as one more means of beautifying the
The Evenings Program. Judge R. Lee Word presided over
the program. Prior to the unveiling ceremony the Helena
drum corps gave several selection. Mrs. Will Aiken pulled
the cord which released the flag covering the new fountain.
The water was turned into the huge bowl by Mrs. F. F. Read.
These women with Miss Young, who followed with the presentation
speech, are the only charter members now in the city.
Miss Young, in formally presenting the splendid memorial
to the city, told of the history of the gift; how the Confederate
Daughters seeing the need of more means of beautifying Hill
park, set about on a campaign to secure funds for the work.
She explained the motives of the order in planning such
a gift, telling how the Confederate Daughters, desirous
of making some presentation to their new residence after
leaving the south, had decided upon the fountain as a fitting
Formally Presented. The speaker lauded the present-day American
spirit, a spirit of union with no feeling between the old
north and south, which caused such bitterness and sorrow
years ago. Both sides are now engaged in building up a better
c ountry to live in, making their homes more comfortable,
their cities more beautiful. She
behalf of the daughters of the Confederacy, I present this
fountain to the city of Helena
as a token of our esteem toward our new home.
city of Helena is pleased and honored to accept this substantial
and beautiful donation from the Daughters of the Confederacy.
On behalf of the city I accept most heartily this splendid
token Thus spoke Attorney Edward Horsky, in place
of Mayor Purcell.
The city attorney, in accepting the gift, delved into the
history of the city and the park, on which the monument
was built. He lauded the spirit of the Confederate Daughters
in making such a fitting gift. The efforts of the
Daughters of the Confederacy in planning such a gift are
worthy of the highest praise, said Mr. Horsky. We
have several pretty parks, though they lack such fitting
and substantial markings as this, it is a beautiful memorial
that will long keep bright the memory of the organization
that donated it.
Of Native Granite. The fountain is carved from native Montana
granite. It towers eight feet high and in the top a large
electric globe is placed. Four streams of water pour forth
into a large bowl which overflows into a basin six feet
square. The structure is ornamented with pretty carvings.
It was designed by Architect George H. Carsley and erected
at a cost of $2,000. It was placed on the highest point
in Hill park.
Confederate Veteran Magazine
January 1, 1917
via Ken Robison
CONFEDERATE MEMORIAL IN HELENA, MONT.
5th of September, 1916, was made memorable in the
city of Helena, Mont., by the presentation of the Confed-
erate memorial fountain as a gift from the Winnie Davis
Chapter, U. D. C. It was in 1903 that this Chapter began
its work for a Confederate memorial, and in this it was
aided by other Chapters of the State. So on the evening
of September 5, in the glow of the long Montana twilight,
an interested throng gathered to witness the unveiling ceremonies.
R. Lee Word, of the district court, acted as master
of ceremonies. The speech of presentation was made by
Miss Georgia C. Young, the veil was drawn by Mrs. Will
Aiken, and the water was turned into the fountain by Mrs.
F. S. Read, these ladies being the only charter members
Winnie Davis Chapter now residing in Helena. On behalf of
the city the fountain was accepted by City Attorney Edward
Horsky, who expressed the appreciation of the municipality
for this splendid gift.
beautiful memorial, which cost approximately two thousand
dollars, stands in Great Northern Park, near the heart of
the capital city, on the western rim of historic old Last
Chance Gulch and near the Great Northern passenger station.
The site is such that it is accessible, and the fountain
fits into the landscape most charmingly.
base upon which the fountain is placed is rectangular
in form, bordered by heavy granite copings and approaches
being on opposite sides, corresponding to the east-and-west
axis of the park. These will be bordered by flower beds,
and trees and shrubs will be placed about the fountain.
the other sides are granite seats with supports having
classic lines. There are two basins. Bubbling drinking foun-
tains at its north and south sides are so designed as to
hance the beauty of the lines of the fountain. The upper
basin is about six feet in diameter, supported on an octagonal
pedestal springing from the lower basin. This pedestal is
orna mented by conventional water plant leaves.
out of the upper basin is an octagonal shaft, upon
opposite sides of which are two inscriptions in cut letters,
also with panels and ornament of carved leafage. Upon one
side is this inscription : "A Loving Tribute to Our
Confederate Soldiers." Upon the other are chiseled
these words :
the Daughters of the Confederacy in Montana, A.D.
bronze spouts spill water from this pedestal into the
upper basin. In addition, there are four low jets bubbling
through the surface of water in the upper basin, which,
gether with two overflow spouts from the drinking fountain
and the water spilling from the upper into the lower basin,
form pleasing lines and graceful patterns.
whole is surmounted by a bronze lantern, giving to the shaft
something of the proportions of a lighthouse, the distance
from platform to top of light being about nine feet. The
designer, Mr. George H. Carsley, the well-known architect
of Helena, was inspired somewhat by the memorial fountain
erected in Washington City to the memory of Francis Davis
Millett and Col. Archibald Willingham Butt, two heroes who
lost their lives in the sinking of the Titanic.
for the bronze spouts and the floor of the platform,
the material used in the fountain is native Montana granite.
posing at the Confederate Fountain, ca 1917
|An unidentified young woman holding up a newspaper with "PEACE" headline commemorating the end of World War One. Montana Historical Society Photo PAc 2005-4.A1 p30b
Confederate Fountain in Hill Park, 1921
Algeria Shrine Temple Under Construction
DAVID POOR COLLECTION
Girls posing, 1940s
Synness (on the left) and an unknown companion.
Fountain in 1955
COURTESY OF THE DAVID POOR COLLECTION
"Yankee Sympathizer" Apparently Irked, 1955
Fountain Restored with Model City Funds, 1971
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The Fountain in 2012
Renaming/ Rededication Controversy
Historic Fountain a Victim of Local Politicians
June 17, 2015, a young, mentally deranged White racist shot
and killed nine African Americans as they worshipped in their
Charleston, South Carolina church. The shooter, apprehended
by law enforcement the day after the attack, had previously
posted online photographs of himself holding up a Confederate
battle flag. In response to the shooting, efforts were made
across the United States to remove or modify symbols, memorials
and monuments related to the Confederacy.
motivations were behind the efforts to expunge or alter historical
references to the Confederacy, ranging from overwrought emotions,
appeals to politcal correctness, and blatant political opportunism.
In Helena, City Commissioners Katharine Haque-Hausrath and
Andres Halladay proposed "rededicating" the fountain.
Haque-Hausrath wrote, "...we do not believe an explicitly
Confederate memorial and its attendant support for slavery
and more recent symbol for white supremacy and exclusion of
minorities, is appropriate for our city."
reaction from Helena's history community was strong but measured.
Via articles in the Independent Record newspaper and postings
on social media, the case was made that the fountain should
remain unchanged, and that signage explaining its historic
significance should be added. It was pointed out that the
fountain is not a tribute to the Confederacy as such, but
rather a memorial to men who fought and died. The inscription
on the fountain reads, "A
Loving Tribute to Our Confederate Soldiers."
July 8, 2015, the Helena City Commission discussed the proposal,
and also took public comments. On July 14, 2015, word was
received that City Commissioners Haque-Hausrath and Halladay
were no longer advocating renaming the fountain. It was decided that an interpretive sign would be placed nearby.
Language for an interpretive sign was painstakingly drawn up, but no sign was ever installed by the City, who cited problems complying with federal signage regulations as the reason. Skeptics maintained that the City never intended to install such a sign, which would have likely prevented future efforts to remove the fountain. It appeared that the City was intent on the fountain's removal, and were only waiting for the next racially-charged incident to happen on the national stage.
On August 12, 2017, a protest occured in Charlottesville, Virigina over the removal of a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee. One person was killed and 19 injured. On August 15, eight members of the American Indian Caucus of the Montana legislature, none of whom lived in or represented Helena, called upon the Helena City Commission to remove the fountain. They were:
* Rep. Shane Morigeau
* Sen. Jason Small
* Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy
Rep. Bridget Smith
* Rep. George Kipp III
* Rep. Susan Webber
* Rep. Sharon Stewart-Peregoy
* Rep. Rae Peppers
Speculation arose that members of the Indian Caucus were chosen to issue the call so that, given the prevailing climate of racial and ethnic tension in the U.S., people would be reluctant to criticize the motivations of a minority group for fear of a political backlash.
As they had in 2015, state and local historians publicly opposed the removal of the fountain, but to no avail.
A hearing was held on August 16, at which opposing viewpoints were voiced. Citizens were not allowed a vote on the matter. On Friday, August 18, the fountain was removed. At last report, it was sitting under tarps, in a field, at an undisclosed location.
As one writer on social media put it:
"The fountain should have remained, serving as an anti-war monument, reminding generations to come that Confederate men were victims of war, as were those who fought for the Union. Ordinary people always lose in war, which is what the fountain spoke to."
Proponents of Removal Mugging for the Camera and Laughing
at the Hearing, August 16, 2017
THOM BRIDGE - INDEPENDENT RECORD
Protesters in Hill Park, August 18, 2017
PHOTO BY DAVID POOR
Removing the 1916 Confederate Soldier's Memorial Fountain
Morning of August 18, 2017 • Hoisted Away by Crane
THOM BRIDGE - INDEPENDENT RECORD
Afternoon, August 18, 2017
The Fountain Under Tarps at an Undisclosed Location, 2018
Photo by Thom Bridge, Independent Record
Were They Not Men Like You and I?
ROCK ISLAND CONFEDERATE CEMETERY, ILLINOIS
Design by California Artists Chosen to Replace
In 2019, a fountain designed by California artists James Dinh and Michael Stutz was chosen to replace the Confederate Fountain. Entitled "Sphere of Interconnectedness", the design was roundly ridiculed on social media. There was also resentment in the community about not choosing a design by a Helena -- or at least a Montana -- artist.
The "Sphere of Interconnectedness", also known locally as the "Orb of Nothingness", was installed months behind schedule on April 27, 2020.
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The New Fountain, Freshly Installed
PHOTO BY DAVID POOR • CLICK ON IMAGE TO OPEN A BIG VERSION IN A NEW WINDOW
|Note that the actual orb appears smaller than the one pictured in the artists' illustration, which was widely published in early 2019.
PHOTO BY DAVID POOR
Confederate Fountain, August 2014
PHOTO BY TOM KILMER
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