GALLIPOLIS, Ohio — A beloved fixture of Gallipolis City Park has once again become functional. This summer, the Kerr Fountain’s water was turned on after being shut off last year.
“It’s a nice feature for sure,” Ted Lozier, Gallipolis city manager, said.
The fountain was reportedly turned off last year because it was being “misused.” According to Lozier, individuals were playing in the fountain, and it was turned off to discourage this behavior. But this year, Lozier was, and continues to be, hopeful.
“This year, we haven’t had problems,” he said.
Repairs to the Kerr Fountain were made possible through a Nature Works grant given by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The grant provides for upgrades to parks and other outdoor facilities.
The fountain was installed in the Gallipolis City Park in 1925. Funded by Minnie Shellcroft Kerr in honor of her husband, Charles Kerr, who died earlier in the year, the fountain has been well maintained, Gallipolis historian Mary Lee Marchi, who also operates the Facebook photography page Gallipolis Pictures, explained.
“Kerr was a leader in the community, and he owned a drugstore, and the drugstore was directly across from the fountain,” Marchi said. “And he loved the park.”
The fountain cost about $16,000 in 1925 to be installed. Shellcroft Kerr also bequeathed a sizable endowment for the upkeep of the fountain. It was built by the Georgia Marble Company.
Kerr “was well known in the community,” Marchi said. He “made many of his own drugs when he had the drugstore, and he also owned the medicine boat, which was pushed up and down the river.” Kerr was also a member of the Masonic Lodge.
Born in Gallipolis, he spent his entire boyhood in the town. He reportedly moved to Kansas for several years before purchasing property in Gallipolis, and built his first drugstore on Third Avenue.
“It was one of the most important centers of Gallipolis. He had the first soda fountain in the city” which drew many rural visitors, Marchi said.
Now, the Kerr Fountain is a popular wedding location, and one of the highlights of the Gallipolis City Park.
“That fountain is in everybody’s memory,” Marchi said.
Historical information provided by Mary Lee Marchi. Find Marchi’s photos and stories at “Gallipolis Pictures” on Facebook.
© 2020 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.
Sharla Moody is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing from Gallipolis, Ohio. She is a graduate of River Valley High School and currently attends Yale University.