When students return to the University of North Dakota this fall, they'll notice several new additions to campus. The Wellness Center will be complete and two major construction projects - the new parking garage and a new student housing complex - will be well underway. Something will actually be missing from the campus, though. The Adelphi Fountain, a campus landmark for nearly 100 years, has been removed from its spot near the meandering English Coulee and is being shipped to California where it will undergo extensive restoration work. The fountain won't appear again on campus until sometime next spring.
The University calls the Adelphi Fountain "the first purely decorative" addition to the campus. It was presented to the University in 1907 by the Adelphi Literary Society. The society was the first student organization on campus. The fountain was first placed near what was then the center of campus. In 1911, the fountain was moved to a spot near Burtness Theater. It was then moved again to its current home on campus - a bend of the English Coulee - in 1928. In the many decades that it has sat on campus, the fountain has fallen into disrepair. Three decorative figures which used to adorn both the base and the top of the fountain have long since vanished (you can see these figures in the above image). Still, the fountain has remained an enduring "symbol" of the campus from generation to generation.
The recent announcement of The Danley Gift - a $10 million dollar donation from two now-deceased UND alumni - is what led to the culmination of a more than 25 year effort to fully restore the fountain to its grandeur. I recently received a wonderful email from a man named John Colle Rogers. Rogers is a sculptor and metalworker living in Oakland, California. In the 1970's and 1980's, his father, John H. Rogers, was Dean of the College of Visual Arts at UND and a professor of sculpture. It was first the vision of the elder Rogers, back in 1980, to restore the fountain.
The two men created a proposal in 2002 to restore the fountain in a joint father/son project. As with many things at a public institution, funding was always key to the project getting off of the drawing board and beyond the proposal stage. By late last year, the University was coming closer to getting their funding in order. However, by this time John's father had been diagnosed with Leukemia and passed away in November. John put together a new proposal with Jenny Cole, a friend and fellow sculptor, and presented it to the University. The Danley gift gave the University the chance to start the fountain restoration project, along with several other on-campus projects which will dot the landscape adjacent to the English Coulee.
John's love for his father and the beautiful campus of the University of North Dakota make this restoration project truly a tribute to his father and all of those who have come before us at the University of North Dakota. He puts it best in his own words:
"The bottom line is that this is a work of love for me. I grew roaming the halls of the Hughes Fine Arts Center and the fountain was as important a UND icon for me as the eternal flame and the hockey puck. When he was active in the 70's and 80's, my dad poured an enormous amount of energy into bringing world class modern dance, jazz, and art to Grand Forks, and into inspiring countless students to tap the depths of their creativity, so it fills me with great joy to be a part of this whole development which is aimed at bringing beauty to the campus. The spiritual center is indeed reminiscent of the plains churches, and tying it into the snaky passage of the coulee is a brilliant stroke."
"I just find it very special that this is happening, and that the quest for beauty can slip from generation to generation. As it should be."This entire project truly appears to be a "work of love," not just on the part of John Colle Rogers and the late John H. Rogers, but also on the part of the late Elnora Hopper-Danley. Her lasting love for the beauty of the UND campus and the English Coulee made this project possible. The generous Danley gift will insure that the campus will be beautiful for years to come. Click here to read more about the Danley's lasting connection to the University and their legacy.
I'll be very anxious to see the work of John and Jenny next year when the fountain is back home again where it belongs - on campus. As John puts it, "It will reappear next spring, freshened up and festooned with its cadre of naiads and the crowning oracle." What a wonderful symbol the fountain is for the University and how great that there have been others who have realized this as well.
•Click here to read the entire text of John Colle Rogers' email.
•Image from the archives of the University of North Dakota - made available here by John Colle Rogers.