Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Kezar Falls Village Water Fountain

Before there were public water systems to pipe water to individual homes, most villages had a centrally located well with a hand pump so that the local residents could get the water they needed.  There were at least three in Kezar Falls Village.  One in particular was located at the intersection of Bridge Street, River Street, the Old Portland Road (which would later become Route 25 after WWII) and Summer Street on the Porter end of the covered bridge just south of the Methodist Church.  This picture  shows that pump with a water barrel to water horses.

In 1915, the Temperance Movement for prohibition of liquors was in full swing and the local Woman’s Christian Temperance Union decided to replace the old pump with a new drinking fountain with the idea that with a water fountain readily available there would be no need for strong liquor to quench one’s thirst.   On July 3, 1915 the new fountain was dedicated and celebrated with much fanfare, speeches, a brass band and music at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Kezar Falls Village. 

The headline in the July 8th Ossipee Valley Weekly newspaper read “DEDICATION OF DRINKING FOUNTAIN - Appropriate Exercises Held in Honor of Temperance Symbol” and the event was described in detail.  The festivities were concluded as the members of the Ladies Temperance Legion, led by the brass band, marched to the fountain where it was unveiled.  They sang “Onward We Are Marching” and the water and light globe at the top was turned on.  Then there was a rush, for each one wanted to drink from the “bubblers”.   

(Above is a close up view of the new fountain and was taken looking north with Bridge Street to the right and the Malvern Hotel and Ridlon Brothers Store in the background.  The hotel is gone now and the store is now the Village Laundry. The Methodist Church would have been across from the hotel just out of the picture on the left.)

Miss Mildred Stanley was age 10 at the time and read a poem.  The first and last verses were as follows:
Mrs. Blanch Stanley getting water from the fountain.

“The decision day has come

When we don’t want any rum,

And it will surely go

If everyone votes NO."

"Prohibition we will gain

When all states vote no with Maine;

Rum Business will be smote

When the ladies get the vote.”

A poem by Lewellen Wadsworth was also read. A few key lines were:

“Today, by faith, the coming years we scan

And dedicate this gift to rescue fallen man……"

"If erring brothers listen here today,

Fondly we hope, most fervently we pray,

That guided oft by gentle hands Divine

You quench your thirst before this hallowed Shrine….."

The following year this letter was sent to the Porter’ Select Men.

To the Selectmen of the Town of Porter;

The members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union at a meeting held today, voted that the Union present and give to the town of Porter, the drinking fountain erected and owned by the Union in Kezar Falls Village in Porter near the covered bridge, the said Town to keep said fountain in repair and usable for the public, and that the President and Secretary delivered to the Selectmen of Porter a copy of this voted, signed by them as the transfer and delivery of said fountain to the Town of Porter, and receive from said Selectmen for the Union, their acceptance of the fountain for their town.

Porter, Oct. 18, 1916 
True copy attest:
Mary M. Stanley, President

Mrs. Sherman Stanley Secretary

Temperance Pledge Card
The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the manufacture, transportation and sale of intoxicating liquors, became law in 1920 and continued until 1933.   Although the Kezar Fall’s fountain was a symbol in favor of prohibition, it is doubtful it did much to change the habits of those who drank.   The dedication ceremony seems a bit amusing and naive in today’s world.  However, it was very serious to those who believed in the movement at that time.

The fountain remained until the new cement bridge was built in 1926.  No one seems to know what happened to the fountain after removal.   Was it tossed in the river, buried somewhere nearby or perhaps sold for scrap?  

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