Saturday, August 31, 2013

Frank Beach Memorial Fountain

Here's a slideshow of the Frank Beach Memorial Fountain at the Rose Garden in Washington Park. The fountain is a memorial to Frank E. Beach, a prominent local businessman of the early 20th century, who (we're told) invented the Rose Festival and christened Portland the "Rose City". He also developed the Parkrose neighborhood, participated in civic organizations, appeared in the local society pages from time to time, and apparently had a role in preserving the downtown Park Blocks.

Beach died in 1934, after being hit by a car, shortly after exiting the Vista Avenue streetcar. An Oregonian editorial the next day cautioned pedestrians to pay closer attention to traffic and to please look both ways before crossing the street.

The fountain was a gift to the city from Beach's son, Frank L. Beach. The winning design (by the unavoidable Lee Kelly) was unveiled in May 1974, and a groundbreaking ceremony was held at that year's Rose Festival. The completed fountain was officially dedicated at the next year's Rose Festival. In 1977 the younger Beach donated an information kiosk to the Rose Garden. He passed away later that year, and the kiosk was later dedicated to him.

I'm actually not going to go off on yet another gripe-fest about Kelly, the fountain's sculptor. Maybe it's the stainless steel, or maybe it's the reflecting pool, which makes it at least sort of a fountain, as broadly defined. Whatever the reason, this one and the Kelly Fountain downtown can stay. It's still not my favorite style, but I realize this style was considered super-groovy back in the 70s for some reason. So keeping a couple of examples around would make sense, for the sake of art history or something.

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