Beginning in early 2017, The Berkshire Design Group signed on to assist Look Park in renovating the historic Frank Newhall Memorial Park Fountain located at the entrance to Look Park in Northampton, MA. The memorial fountain was built in the late 1920’s as a “monument” to celebrate the contributions and life of Frank Newhall Look. The memorial fountain sits prominently at the park entrance, with its integral piers, fountain pool and fencing, forming the central gateway to the park.
The memorial consists of a large elliptical pool surrounded on the back side by a curved masonry wall and with a series of steps on the front leading up to the main fountain pool. The fountain was built using cast-in-place concrete, precast stone, brick, and decorative tile. The main water fountain feature is located in the center of the pool on a raised pedestal and includes a large ceramic basin and containing the various fountain nozzles and piping. The masonry wall surrounding the back of the fountain forms a roughly 12’ high backdrop for the main water feature. Precast stone pillars flank the left and right sides of the main pool while a larger central pillar is located directly behind the water feature and contains the etched dedication plaque. The curved portions of wall between the pillars consist of narrow brick and mortar walls with decorative tile panels.
Years of water penetration, failing materials, combined with a lack of maintenance have resulted in severely deteriorating conditions causing failure of some portions of the existing fountain. Large cracks in the curved walls have developed as a result of outward pressure and the thin construction profile of the wall. The tile mosaics are in various states of failure with the worst having recently fallen down almost completely. Much of the precast stone around the fountain pool is severely spalled and damaged from years of water intrusion. The front steps of the fountain have also suffered extensive damage from the similar causes and are in many cases, beyond repair.
In 2014, Tom Douglas Architects developed plans for a full “historic” renovation however efforts to secure CPA funding for a full restoration fell short and funding was not awarded. Since that time, this significant park feature has continued to deteriorate and was now on the verge of a complete failure and collapse if something is not done to save it. As a result, the Berkshire Design Group was approached by Look Park to develop a set of construction documents which sought to restore the fountain in a structurally and economically feasible manner yet retain much of the historic character as the original fountain. Following a review of previous reports and documents, onsite investigations, consultations with various masons and industry professionals, and Look Park officials, a plan for restoring the fountain was developed.
In general, the majority of the current fountain element is proposed to be demolished due to its severely deteriorated state. This project seeks to disassemble and reinstall most of the existing precast stone facing, pool coping, capstones and other ornamental stonework on new masonry walls and foundations. Salvageable material will be numbered, dismantled, cleaned and stored for resetting. One of the goals of this project is to also restore a functioning, albeit simpler, fountain feature to the center of a shallower pool. The project proposes to remove the pedestal and fountain elements, set a basin within the existing pool, then fill in around the basin with a new, shallower concrete pool. The fountain feature will be self-contained and consist of a submersible recirculating pump, automatic water fill controls, and a decorative fountain nozzle.
The project is currently under construction with the help of Keiter Builders, who has assembled a talented team of stone masons, plumbing and mechanical contractors, and metal workers to bring the fountain back to life and once again, grace the entrance to the park with a significant memorial to those that helped make Look Park possible.
See more about the project here: