Saturday, May 15, 2021

In Memory of Dick and Fan

By Paul Armstrong

From 1926 until 1983, a fountain stood on the median of Assembly Street at Taylor Street.  Having seen this fountain many times during my high school and college years, I’ve often wondered about the story behind it and what happened to it.  So, I decided to research it and below is what I’ve discovered. (There was also an older animal fountain at Assembly and Lady Streets which you can read about at this link: Itinerant Landmark.)

The Porcher Fountain on Assembly Street in 1956
Photo Courtesy of Richland County Library's State Newspaper Photograph Archive

In 1925, a 14-year-old dog named Dick died at his home on Edisto Avenue in Columbia.  He was a Gordon Setter and was the beloved pet of Artemis ‘Artie’ and Loretta Porcher (pronounced ‘Por-shay’).  Dick was apparently so named because he was a gift from the late Richard ‘Dick’ Reynolds for whom Artie worked as division sales manager for the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Loretta was so bereaved by the dog’s death that she wanted to erect a monument in his memory. So, in January of 1926, she presented a request to the Columbia City Council to erect an ornate fountain at the intersection of Assembly and Taylor Streets in memory of her late pet.

City Council approved the request and selected the spot on the median of Assembly on the south side of its intersection with Taylor Street.  Later in 1926, Ms. Porcher had the fountain built and installed on the chosen site. It was designed by Columbia architect, J. Carroll Johnson, and built by Joseph Niggel’s Columbia Stone Co. It was constructed of Georgia granite and was six-feet high and four-feet wide.  A semi-circular trough held water at horse height on one side, and a dog trough was on the other side at ground level. A bronze tablet was affixed above the horse trough that was inscribed with the words, “Dick 1911-1925 He loved and was loved.”


The Porcher Fountain in 1976
Photo Courtesy of Richland County Library's State Newspaper Photograph Archive

In 1928, the Porchers lost another dog to death, a female named Fan. They had another bronze plaque made and attached to the opposite side of the fountain above the dog trough.  The inscription on this plaque said, “Fan 1914-1928 Faithful to Those She Loved.” 

Rear of the Porcher Fountain Showing Dog Trough, 1962
Photo Courtesy of Richland County Library's State Newspaper Photograph Archive

The Porcher Fountain’s location near the north end of the Assembly Street Market was close to the corner where draymen, with their horses and wagons, often awaited customers who needed their larger purchases delivered. So, it not only served horses bringing products to the market, but also slaked the thirst of animals pulling heavy merchandise loads like firewood, lumber, etc. to homes around the area. The proliferation of automobiles and trucks, along with the closing of the Assembly Street Market in 1951, severely reduced the demand for animal watering on Assembly Street. The fountain fell into disuse and the water supply was eventually disconnected. It became a non-functioning landmark passed daily by many motorists. Finally, city officials decided to relocate the fountain away from the heavily trafficked intersection of Assembly and Taylor Streets. 

Porcher Fountain at Arsenal Hill Park, 1983
Photo Courtesy of Richland Library's Russell Maxey Photograph Collection

The fountain was moved in 1983 to Arsenal Hill Park which was a quiet little park that commanded a great view of Columbia’s skyline but also overlooked the old eyesore known as Seaboard Industrial Park.  In the late 1980s, the city converted Seaboard Park into a renewed Sidney Park which opened in 1990 and was renamed Finlay Park in 1993. With the much larger, attractive park just across the street, the city no longer felt the need to maintain Arsenal Hill Park. The one-third of an acre park property around the community center building was sold to developers who built an office building and parking garage.  The main part of the Porcher fountain was moved to storage.  The dog trough, however, made its way to the Riverfront Park.

Dog Trough at Riverfront Park
Photo Courtesy of Hardy Childers


Sources

  • “A. D. Porcher, 63, Dies.” The Columbia Record, September 22, 1941, page 14.
  • “City acts to rezone land for garage.” The State, May 20, 1993, page 2B.
  • “Council Inspects Site for Fountain.” The State, January 13, 1926, page 12.
  • “Council Selects Site for Memorial Fountain to be Erected to Dog.” The Columbia Record, January 18, 1926, page 3.
  • “Daybook.” The Columbia Record, September 20, 1955, page 8-A.
  • “Developers take garage proposal to city officials.” The State, April 7, 1993, page 3B.
  • “Downtown land sale criticized.” The State, July 22, 1993, page 2B.
  • “Erect Fountain to Dead Canine.” The Columbia Record, January 9, 1926, page 1.
  • “The Live Wire.” The Columbia Record, March 3, 1967, page 1-A.
  • “Live Wire.” The Columbia Record, May 25, 1976, page 2-A.
  • “Live Wire.” The Columbia Record, May 28, 1982, page 2-A.
  • McDonald, Bill. “Fountain Facts.” The State, June 4, 1987, page 1-B.
  • McDonald, Bill. “Two Fountains.” The State, April 30, 1987, page 1-B.
  • “Mrs. Porcher’s Funeral Planned This Afternoon.” The Columbia Record, May 18, 1949, page 9-B.
  • Talbert, Bob. “The Memorial Fountain.” The State, July 13, 1966, page 1-B.



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