Oct 27, 2021

South Bend, Indiana, to Install Water Softener to Repair Historic Studebaker Fountain

Before repairs, staff members will clean off the rusty- and green-colored minerals that have left some of the fountain inoperable.

water softening

South Bend, Indiana, and a fundraising committee have reached an agreement to pay to fix the Studebaker Electric Fountain at Leeper Park.

The fountain has hard-water minerals that have accumulated over time, reported The South Bend Tribune.

These repairs will occur in the spring, and the city’s Venues, Parks & Arts department plans to install a water softening system.

According to John Martinez, director of facilities and grounds, bids will be determined over the next week or so. Before repairs, staff members will clean off the rusty- and green-colored minerals that have left some of the fountain inoperable. This part of the process will occur over the winter. 

The parks department board approved an agreement in which the city pledges $50,000 for the water system and the committee that raised money for the fountain’s restoration in 2019 pledges $60,000, reported The South Bend Tribune. 

Overall, the committee raised more than $648,900 from donors and hired restoration experts.

The fountain has been around since 1906 in Howard Park, as a gift from Studebaker co-founder John M. Studebaker, reported The South Bend Tribune. 

The fountain came down in 1941 because the city could not repair its artwork, which was crumbling. The pieces were then discovered in recent years, so repairs by the city are now possible. The water softening system will be housed in a small brick structure at Leeper Park.  

The city rejected repair ideas such as bromine injection and using river water instead of a water softener.

According to the cost-sharing agreement approved, the committee may consider contributing to future improvements or other expenses at their discretion. 

The city’s pledge of $50,000 would come from the parks budget, which does not impact other park projects, reported The South Bend Tribune. 

The fountain will stop running in mid-November so staff can blow out the lines to avoid freezing and begin deep cleaning the fountain’s lines and artwork. 

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