After years of being hauled around, a 132 year-old Lakewood fountain has a secure location in front of the Sheldon Wolpin Historical Museum in Pine Park. The fountain faced an uncertain future when the Lakewood post office building was sold to a private investor in 2018. Lifelong residents Steve Wexler, chairman of the Lakewood Heritage Commission, VP of the Lakewood Historical Society, and a retired Lakewood police detective; and Bob Kirschner, chairman of the LIC (Lakewood Industrial Commission) decided to relocate the fountain to the Lakewood Historical Museum in Pine Park. A crane truck from the Arnold Steel Company moved the fountain to its new home in front of the museum.
In 2022, with the help of Lakewood Mayor Ray Coles and Block Grant Coordinator Ervin Oross, funding was secured to restore the fountain. Work began in October of 2023 to restore the fountain with lighting and flowing water. Victor Sevcenko. Owner of VKS Welding LLC, Jackson, and his crew fabricated a custom metal bracket to hang heavy lights on the fountain.
The fountain had its origin in 1891 when about 75 Lakewood citizens donated around $550.00 to create and install a water fountain on Clifton Avenue, Lakewood, N.J., near Main Street, for the use of horses and dogs as they traveled up and down the avenue during the day.
That year, Captain Albert Bradshaw, the postmaster who owned the post office building on the Southeastern corner of Main and Clifton Avenues, and William Harrison, who owned a drugstore at the corner of Main Street and Clifton Avenue, commissioned the J. L. Mott Iron Works Company of New York City to manufacture a fountain.
The completed project was shipped in 1891 at no charge to Lakewood via the Central Jersey Railroad and unloaded at Main Street. The fountain was then hauled by horse and wagon to the corner of Main and Clifton and positioned on Clifton Avenue on the West side of the Laurel House Hotel next to the curb.
In 1938, as horseless carriages took over the roads and the need for the watering trough disappeared, the fountain was then moved by the Lakewood Public Works Department to a location on Main Street across from St. Mary’s Church, commonly referred to as Campbell Park.
In 1983, when Clifton Avenue was rebuilt including lighting, repaving, and new brick sidewalks, architect Mark Pavliv, Spring Lake, who was born in Lakewood and working on restoring the Strand Theater, helped in getting the fountain relocated through the Department of Transportation to the corner of Clifton Avenue and Main Street near the curb, close to the fountain’s original place.
Wexler and Kirschner are hoping to have the fountain fully operational with lighting and flowing water by 2024. For more information, call Steve Wexler at 732-300-7881.