Given dire warnings about summer water shortages, it’s just as well that there are no major fountains in the immediate area. Golf courses, of course, don’t count.
An unofficial Lakewood-area survey this past month revealed four fountains that can be considered “public.” These fountains are located at the corner of 110th and Gravelly Lake Drive, at Lakewood City Hall, at St. Clare Specialty Treatment Center and in Tillicum at Thornewood Castle.
According to a group of women who “remembered” the Visitation Villa Girls School that once occupied the 100 acres that now makes up the Lakewood Towne Center property—there once was a fountain, fed by water from Clover Creek, that flowed across the property. When the school closed in the early 1950s, that fountain was dismantled.
Seattle artist George Tsutakawa, renowned for his prolific output of paintings, obos (stone structures) and sculptures, created the dramatic fountain that stands in a basin at Lakewood’s Chase Bank at the intersection of Gravelly Lake Dr. and 110th St. Originally designed in 1964 for Tacoma’s Pacific First Federal Savings Bank, the sculpture eventually was moved to Lakewood where it has continued to dispense its cooling waters—despite the occasional prank of soap suds or dye being added to its water.
In the Bellevue Arts Museum book about Tsutakawa’s work*, the artist explains his purpose about the fountain to interviewer Jane Estes in 1978: “Our sense of continuity and rhythm is universal in water. Even in childhood I was interested in running water, in the recycling process of water. I remember Mark Tobey talking to me about the life cycle of the universe and the fact that water moves about endlessly in its various forms, vapor, ice drops forming in the clouds to be released into the rivers. This recycling always fascinated me” (Estes). It was the essence of the Northwest itself, with its rain and its ubiquitous bodies of water.
A dramatic, more traditional fountain is located outside Lakewood’s City Hall where a collection of rocks gives the impression of a desert oasis was designed by Architects Merritt-Pardini. Originally of Tacoma, the firm now is located in Kettle Falls, WA.
Outside St. Clare’s Specialty Center there’s another refreshing fountain, this one created from several basalt columns.
Finally, there’s the ornate Thornewood Castle fountain. Placed at the famous Tillicum estate on the edge of American Lake in the early years of the 21st century, the fountain is a legacy from ABC Disney whose film crew used the castle for its made-for-TV mystery, “Rose Red”. The massive fountain appears in several scenes in that gothic horror story. Once the crew finished filming, the company gifted the current owners with the fountain. View the fountain at www.thornewoodcastle.com/statue.htm.
Now, for some water music:
In the early 20th century Italian composer Ottorino Resphigi composed a tone poem entitled “The Fountains of Rome” in which the music represented several of the Eternal City’s renowned waterholes, including The Fountain of Valle Giulia at Dawn (La fontana di Valle Giulia all’Alba). This shows the fountain at daybreak in a pastoral landscape which cattle pass through during the morning.
In the second section, The Triton Fountain in the Morning (La fontana del Tritone al mattino), depicts Naiads and Tritons dancing in the morning light, as figures of the Bernini fountain are seen nearby. Gods and goddesses using conch shells are portrayed by the French horn.
The third section, The Trevi Fountain at Noon (La fontana di Trevi al meriggio), is ushered in by a triumph giving news of a recent victory by the god Neptune. The final section, The Villa Medici Fountain at Sunset (La fontana di Villa Medici al tramonto), portrays a much more melancholic atmosphere, as the brilliance of the sun fades.
Although Lakewold Gardens has several water sites including the peaceful reflecting pond and the swimming pool; as well as nearby Gravelly Lake, there are no fountains on the property.
Perhaps someday some local composer will be inspired to compose music to honor Lakewood’s fountains. An option is to take a recording of Handel’s “Water Music” and find a shady lakeside setting in which to enjoy the music.
*Tsutakawa, George (1910-1997): Master of Fountains
George Tsutakawa was an internationally recognized artist of Japanese American heritage. A native and longtime resident of Seattle, he was a painter, sculptor, and fountain maker. He made an art form of water, setting a world record not only for our age but probably for all of history to date in having created more than 70 fountains for public places around the world. Their shapes, like his own life, marry Japanese and American sensibilities. Tsutakawa taught at the University of Washington for more than 30 years, and received honorary degrees from Whitman College and Seattle University.