Post Office fountain has interesting origin and history
Posted: Aug 12, 2022 1:19 PMUpdated: Aug 12, 2022 1:20 PM
Many of the tangible artifacts and monuments commemorating Pensacola’s rich 463-year history are concentrated along South Palafox, the city’s most famous street.
A walk from the south end of Palafox Pier north will take one past the Don Tristan De Luna statue, then to Plaza Ferdinand where Andrew Jackson accepted the deed to Florida from Spain, and then on past the 18th century cannons and 19th Century clock on display in front of the old County Courthouse. To travel the length of South Palafox is a walk through history.
But often overlooked among the city’s most visible relics of yesteryear is the 10,000 lb. granite fountain situated in front of the downtown Post Office.
The fountain’s interesting origins began in the early 20th Century when Pensacola Mayor C.C. Goodman in 1907 applied to the National Humane Alliance for a granite drinking fountain specifically for animals.
The National Humane Alliance, based in New York City, was founded in 1897 by Hermon Lee Ensign, a philanthropist and animal welfare advocate who had amassed a fortune in the advertising business.
When he died in 1899, he left much of his wealth to build animal drinking fountains for any city that requested one. The fountains were provided free of charge as long as the city provided an appropriate site, water supply, and maintenance.
Between 1904 and 1912, more than 100 cities, including Pensacola, took advantage of the offer. The fountains were produced in Maine by the Bodwell Granite Company, the same company that supplied the stone blocks for the Brooklyn Bridge.
Soon after the Pensacola fountain was installed, the use of horses and other draft animals for transportation was greatly diminished by the introduction of the automobile. As a result, the fountains, located in the middle of intersections in most cities, became largely obsolete, and many have ended up lost, scrapped, or overgrown with weeds.
Pensacola’s fountain, held in storage for decades, was resurrected in 1996 when the U.S. Post Office, then located in the city’s federal building, was moved to its present location at 101 Palafox Place.
Although missing its original bronze lion's head spouts, today the fountain remains in working order and stands at the entrance to the Post Office. Above the fountain’s water basin, mounted to the fountainhead, is a weathered bronze plaque reading:
Herman Lee Ensign