A ceremony unveiling the historic National Humane Alliance Water Trough Fountain will take place at 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 7 at the intersection of Malvern Avenue and Broadway Street. The public is welcome to attend as a new page is turned in a chapter of Hot Springs’ history.
The solid granite fountain dates back to the early 1900’s, when the National Humane Alliance placed an estimated 125 animal fountains on city streets across America. The Alliance was founded in 1897 by Hermon Lee Ensign, a wealthy business tycoon with a great love of animals. Ensign’s goal was to educate people to be considerate of animals and of each other.
Signage at the new fountain will indicate that its current location is only yards away from its original location, when it was placed at the intersection of what was then Malvern Avenue and Valley Street around 1909.
The solid granite fountain, weighing an estimated 6 tons, features lion head spouts on three sides and a dedication plaque on the fourth. The large bowl provided water for horses, while smaller animals, such as dogs and cats, drank from the ground level bowls.
The fountain served travelers and their faithful companions until the 1920’s. With automotive transportation growing, Judge David Whittington arranged for the fountain to be moved to Sleepy Valley Springs. In the late 1970’s, the fountain was acquired by Thomas E. and Ida Lee Reed, staying in their family for decades. In 2014, grandson Greg Reed contacted City Manager David Watkins to see if there was interest in reclaiming it. Parks & Trails Director Jean Wallace, discovering that the fountain was well preserved, proposed it be incorporated into a new city plaza being constructed near the original site. Today, the history of the fountain and the philanthropy of Mr. Ensign live on in Hot Springs, Arkansas.