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Christensen Fountain restored in Cherokee Park

Wednesday October 13, 2004

RIBBON CUTTING WRAPS UP COMMUNITY EFFORT TO RESTORE CHEROKEE PARK'S CHRISTENSEN FOUNTAIN

LOUISVILLE (October 13, 2004) – Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy and Metro Parks officials were joined today by park neighbors and donors as they celebrated the completion of the Christensen Fountain renovation project.

The Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy, in partnership with Metro Louisville and with the support of lead donors, has completed a comprehensive restoration of Christensen Fountain in Louisville’s Cherokee Park. The memorial to Paulina Keofoed Christensen, mother of Margrethe Christensen, completed 1901, is on Ledge Road, about a quarter mile from the Lexington Road entrance. The central feature is a carved stone watering vessel for riding and carriage horses of the day, modeled after a Viking warship. The fountain as a whole was meant to suggest the memorial stone piles erected in Scandinavia during the Viking Age. It was designed by the prominent Louisville firm of Clarke and Loomis, in consultation with John C. Olmsted in 1900.

Cherokee Park’s Christensen Fountain is one of those landmarks that has the power to fascinate. Few who pass it don’t stop and wonder, “what is that?” But time had diminished the original monument. Previous restoration campaigns, while conducted with the best resources of their day, lacked the kind of thorough and in-depth evaluation and planning that the Olmsted Conservancy has made a hallmark of its projects.

Restoring this prominent landmark in Cherokee Park was undertaken thanks to the support and leadership of park neighbors. In spring 2001 the entire Christensen monument received a two day, on-site evaluation by conservator Virginia Naude of Philadelphia. Her evaluation concluded that the majority of the original dragon boat was actually a concrete replacement and most of the sculptural detail had been entirely lost. The concrete and steel patchwork that had been undertaken during the previous decades had not been faithful to the original design. Local sculptor and stonemason, Albert T. Nelson, was commissioned by the Conservancy to recreate the original water basin and completed the carving off site in late 2002.

The restored monument will be enjoyed by countless thousands of park visitors—independent research shows that 55% of residents of Metro Louisville use the flagship Olmsted Parks, with the highest usage in Cherokee Park. Christensen Fountain is one of Cherokee Park’s most cherished and recognizable landmarks.

The Conservancy raised $80,000 to complete this project with the leadership of Christensen Fountain supporters Suzanne Warner and Bill Warner. Together with The Cherokee Triangle Association, partners in the firm of Greenebaum Doll & McDonald, former Alderman Bill Allison, Metro Councilmember Tina Ward-Pugh, The Gardner Foundation, Metro Parks, and many other donors, the Conservancy has given Christensen Fountain a new start into its second century.

Founded in 1989, the not-for-profit Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy was created as a public-private partnership to provide expertise and funding needed to restore 2,000 acres of parkland and 15 miles of parkway that comprise Louisville’s historic system. Designed by noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and his successor firm, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Louisville’s system is one of only five such systems in existence. To date the Conservancy has raised more than $17 million for park improvements and programs.