A Walking Tour of Hospital Hill

Memorial Park

Current Condition and Proposals for Renovation

Most recent landscape plan for Memorial Park (by Martha Lyon, Landscape Architect)

Northampton State Hospital Fountain

By Nina Xue and Marina Chen ('18)

This is drawing of Old Main which is in “Ballou’s Pictorial Drawing-Room." It was published in Boston on August 30th, 1856. The hospital opened in 1858, and this image was formed from conceptual drawings of the hospital before its construction.  The fountain was planned early in the 1870’s when the State Hospital first made a contract with the Northampton Water Works Co. to have water delivered to the property. A stipulation was made for sufficient water to supply an “out-of-door” “purely ornamental” work to occur until 1876. Over time, the fountain was neglected (see image gallery below). 

Garden fountains originated in the Middle East since they were used to provide relief from the sun and a place to relax and contemplate. Fountains embody symbolic, artistic, and social ideas. They enliven places and reinvigorate those who visit them. Fountains create meeting places, landmarks, and commemorate events or people. Water symbolizes wealth and prosperity. In conjunction with the hospital, which is a place where patients feel better and have the courage to heal and treat themselves, water will diffuse healthy negative ions into the air. Other state hospitals, such as the Weston State Hospital in West Virginia, had fountains as well (pictured left).

Lion head fountains have been around for quite a while and the lion head symbolizes strength and power. In gardens, lion heads are seen as a protector. The ominous and impressive image of the lion head gives any garden a sophisticated and elegant feel. The Northampton State Hospital fountain had 6 lions heads when it was first erected; they slowly disappeared over time and all 6 were missing by 1990. However, one of the heads was recently found. The fountain could be restored by using the recovered lion's head as a mold for the other 5 heads.  Since most of the buildings have been demolished, Jackie, among others, wants to restore the fountain in order to educate and engage the community about the state hospital. Returning the fountain to its original place symbolizes healing and reflection in Village Hill’s community.  Pictured left is a lion's head in England that is identical to the ones used for the Northampton State Hospital fountain. Below are outlines and timelines for fountain restoration.