Public Art, Your Art: Northborough’s Wesson lion fountain
By Jim Piotrowski, Contributing Writer
Northborough – The Wesson lion fountain, which sits at 4 W. Main St. in front of the old Town Hall building, was, according to the Northborough Historical Society, a gift to the town of Northborough from Daniel Wesson and his family in 1882. Wesson was a firearms designer and one of the founders of Smith & Wesson.
At that time, the Wesson family would summer in Northborough in what is now the White Cliffs function facility. Interestingly, when the town aldermen neglected to formally thank the Wesson family for the gift, Daniel Wesson vowed that it would be the last gift he would ever give to Northborough and he stuck to his promise.
When it was first installed, some residents did not regard it as the most artistic of additions and commented that the fountain looked like a “mud turtle.”
Water flowed from the lion’s mouth from 1883, when very few of the local homes had running water, to the late 1940s, when the fountain gradually fell into disrepair. To make matters worse, a car crashed into it in 1950, and it was subsequently moved back from the
road 15 feet. The manufacturer of the fountain seems to have been lost to history as it is not a matter of public record. The fountain underwent a major restoration from 1991-1995 by Chris Coutu and the Northborough Village Improvement Society.
Today, the lion fountain remains a very decorative and vivid reminder of Northborough’s past. Despite all the changes that happen around it, the fountain has been watching over the traffic, parades, businesses and citizens of Northborough since 1882.
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