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Opinion

OUR VIEW: Tribute to La Salle County’s namesake needs help

Once magnificent but now in need, this fountain was dedicated in 1918 in Ottawa as an Illinois Centennial tribute to the French explorer who is La Salle County’s namesake.
Once magnificent but now in need, this fountain was dedicated in 1918 in Ottawa as an Illinois Centennial tribute to the French explorer who is La Salle County’s namesake.

On Dec. 3, 1918, to mark the state’s centennial, three public monuments were dedicated in Ottawa. The first two were the Old Settlers Colonnade on Ottawa Avenue near the entrance to Ottawa Avenue Cemetery and the sundial on the lawn of the Ottawa Boat Club, which marks the spot where Abraham Lincoln mustered out of the Blackhawk War.

The restoration of both of those monuments for a rededication this year is underway. The third monument was a fountain sponsored by the Illini Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution honoring the county’s namesake, French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle.

Significantly, the fountain was the first memorial to be erected to La Salle in this part of the state and was considered long overdue.

The 8-foot, 7-inch fountain was contracted through the Architectural Decorative Company of Chicago at a cost of $650. The DAR raised its initial funds for the fountain with a ball at the Ottawa Boat Club.

The fountain originally was on the grounds of the Illinois National Guard armory, which once stood west of Ottawa High School. It was moved when the armory was demolished. Now the fountain is available from the private owners for restoration, although a new location has not been decided on.

The fountain is in poor shape, which is not really too surprising after a century in the elements. But the parts are there, as is the possibility of a restoration to its former glory. Questions about the project can be directed to Mollie Perrot, chairwoman of the Ottawa Historic Preservation Commission, at 815-433-1361.

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