The intersection of Washington and Essex Streets, known as Town House Square, is the site of Salem’s original fresh water spring. The Town Pump Fountain that now occupies this spot fulfills a request made one hundred and twenty five years ago. Click above to hear partner Tom Schraudenbach and sculpture Joe Winter discuss it's creation.
In 1837 Nathaniel Hawthorne published his first successful book, Twice Told Tales.
One of the most memorable of these tales was A Rill from the Town Pump, a dissertation by the Town Pump himself.
He describes the early history of the original spring, providing refreshment to the Indians, the early explorers, and the first settlers. These waters were also utilized in Salem’s first baptism. Later, when the spring was transformed into the Town Pump, he tells of the important role he played in the everday life of the Tow, and of the people and animals he served with cooling water. Those who chose stronger fluids were roundly chastised, and urged to drink of the “good liquour” offered by the pump.
As the Town Pump nears the end of his “speech” he is quoted as follows:
“And when I shall have decayed, like my predecessors, then, if you revere my memory, let a marble fountain, richly sculptured, take my place upon this spot.”
In 1976, after a century and a quarter, the suggestion was taken. The large bronze panel traces the historical sequence narrated by the Town Pump, beginning at the lower right. The Indians and the spring, the early explorers, the first settlement and the first Christening are depicted. The birds, the oxen, the dog and the other characters who were refreshed by the cooling waters are grouped around the large spout. The drinking fountains have been provided to establish this place as a source of public refreshment, and the pool steps have been designed so that birds, dogs, and oxen, should the need arise, may once agin drink with comfort.