Experiencing Great Architecture and Creative Built Environments

Bagley Memorial Fountain (1887)

H.H. Richardson, Architect

Cadilliac Square at Bates Street

Detroit MI

Aerial View and Map (note aerial photo was taken before the fountain was installed in Cadilliac Square)

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Photos taken October 8, and October 22, 2011

The fountain was a gift bequeathed to the City of Detroit by John Bagley, a local businessman and former Governor of Michigan. The elaborate granite structure is actually a drinking fountain, with 4 lions heads spouting water. It was reported that Bagley’s will called for the design to provide “water cold and pure as the coldest mountain stream”. During hot summer months, two of the lions heads had their water chilled by blocks of ice dropped into the base of the fountain packed around the pipes. I do not see any indication of how this was accomplished, but will take the reports at face value. The fountain was actually moved several times, and perhaps the ice access was eliminated during one of the moves. Originally it was located at Woodward and Fort street, then was moved to Campus Martius in 1926. It was put in storage in 2000, and then reinstalled at the eastern end of Cadillac Square, just down from Campus Martius.

Appearing at first glance as just a stately monument, this beautifully restored fountain is one of Detroit’s historical treasures. It is Michigan’s only structure by H.H. Richardson, one of America’s most important architects of the 19th century (the only other structure in Michigan by Richardson was destroyed by fire in 1946). 

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