Water flowing again in historic campus fountain
The drinking fountain at the Old Well next to Alamance Building had been broken for at least a year before a team effort got the water flowing again.
While service projects pulled many Elon students away from campus for Spring Break, an effort to rebuild a piece of the university’s history turned into a special project for Physical Plant workers who stayed behind.
Plumbing supervisor Jimmy Curiazza says restoring the historic drinking fountain at the Old Well next to Alamance Building became a priority after a student asked about its fate. The fountain had been out of commission for at least a year and Curiazza says he was “at a standstill” trying to decide whether to replace it or rebuild it by hand.
He made up his mind once he heard from Elon senior Kevin Beach.
“I wanted to leave something [behind] that would stay on [campus] for a little while,” Beach, who’s from Davidson, NC, said of his motivation to get involved.
He had seen a similar historic fountain restored in his hometown over recent months, so he decided to reach out to campus maintenance personnel about getting the water flowing at the Old Well again. The ball really got rolling, he says, when someone told him to email Curiazza.
Beach’s interest was enough to get Curiazza hunting for hard-to-find replacement parts. He says the company that made the fountain shut down in the 1970s.
“Thanks to Kevin, I started researching it again and made a go of it,” Curiazza said. He was eventually able to track down “a little company in Missouri” that makes the original parts he needed.
So on Monday, March 25, Curiazza, university plumber Eric Biebel, a brick mason and a local machine shop teamed up to pull out the fountain and then strip it, powder coat it, rebuild it and reinstall it. The job was done by Friday, March 29, and water was flowing from the fountain by the time students returned from Spring Break.
The well that serves the fountain was constructed in 1889 and is the oldest landmark on campus, according to the Belk Library Archives. Curiazza says Physical Plant workers aren’t exactly sure where the fountain originally came from or when it was installed on campus. But both he and Beach are thrilled to have it working again.
“It looks great,” Beach said. “I took a sip from it and it was good. I’m really impressed.”