Jackson Memorial Fountain
As it sits on the corner of 17th Street and Park Avenue in Parkersburg, WV, this fountain resides in a visible space at the entrance of the City Park. Indeed, it's not easy to miss this cast iron fountain that was constructed in 1905 to honor the contributions of prominent local resident General John Jay Jackson and that of his sons. A result of the fountain's antiquity has left the fountain physically altered, but still retains its historical integrity of early 20th century Victorian architecture. This monument was placed on the National Historic Registry in 1984.
Backstory and Context
In addition, his sons were also prominent local politicians: Jacob Beeson Jackson, Judge John Jay Jackson Jr., and James Monroe Jackson. Jacob Beeson Jackson was the sixth governor of West Virginia and one of his initiatives while in office was to attempt state tax reform. Unlike his brothers, Jackson did not attend college or hold a degree. His father educated him in the law and he was admitted to the bar in 18522. In addition, Jacob Beeson Jackson also served as prosecuting attorney for Pleasants County (for almost a decade) and Wood County, in addition to one term in the House of Delegates2. Jackson Sr.'s eldest son, his namesake, John Jay Jr., served as a federal district judge after his time as prosecuting attorney in Wirt and Ritchie Counties. In 1861, he was given the position of federal district judge by President Lincoln, and John Jay Jr.'s choice of election commissioners, in 1870, gave suffrage to former Confederates and allowed West Virginia to be placed under Democratic influence and control2.
This fountain was bequeathed to the city of Parkersburg by James Monroe Jackson, Jr. in order to commemorate his family's achievements:Originally constructed with three tiers, the "Lady of the Lake" sculpture adorned the top tier while the edges of the two lower tiers displayed intricate cravings of curling vines and winged head of a man4. The top tier is also beautifully adorned with several sculpted elements. Water cascaded from the top tier to the lowest basin. On the lowest basin, there were originally 12 vases around the perimeter of the fountain with two large sculpted lions, water spurted into the basin from their mouths. In addition, an archway and a staircase framed and led to the fountain. Today, the third tier, archway, and staircase have all been removed; though, the "Lady of the Lake" sculpture now sits on the second tier and the lion sculptures have been replaced and updated.
It is my will and desire and I do direct that my said Executors shall of proper __and set aside five thousand Dollars out of my personal estate before any division thereof shall be made among my children, and that they erect or cause to be erected a public fountain within the limits of the City of Parkersburg upon some public park on square to be furnished by the authorities of said city, which fountain shall be accepted by them upon the conditions, that they shall protect, care for and keep in good repair the said fountain and the same property supplied with water for running of the same. The said Fountain to be known ad the “The Jackson Fountain.” My said Executors are to ec____the said five thousand dollars aforementioned in the erection of such fountain of suitable design, and as ornamental as can be procured for the amount of money appropriated as aforesaid, and after the completion of said fountain, my said executors are directed to turn the same over to the authorities of said City of Parkersburg. But should the authorities of said city decline to accept the fountain provided for herein and upon the conditions therein mentioned, then this bequest is to be void, and the said five thousand Dollars to revert to and become part of my estate and be disposed of a herein provided for as to the residue of my estate3.