The Historic Nassau County Courthouse fountain is failing: Open letters

 June 25, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Crane fountain today
Crane fountain today

Open letter to the Amelia Island – Fernandina Beach Restoration Foundation Directors and the Fernandina Beach City Commissioners from Aubrey Williams concerning the deplorable condition of the Crane fountain in front of the old court house on Centre Street

June 20, 2014

In the early 1970’s I helped establish the Foundation and was elected its first President.  My late wife, Pat, and I both served on the Board of Directors of the Foundation for over 15 years and Pat was President for 3 years.

In 1990, on behalf of the Foundation, Pat and I went to Robinson Iron in Alexander City, Alabama to purchase the Crane fountain.  It is a replica of the fountain that once stood in front of the train depot on Centre Street

The Foundation and City agreed that the Foundation would purchase the fountain and the City would install and maintain it.

Fountain elements
Fountain elements

It is obvious that no one has maintained the fountain.  Babette, my wife of 20 years, and I left this area for a period of ten years, returning to the island two years ago.  We were appalled by the ragged appearance of the fountain.  This does not speak well for a city that prides itself on restoration.

Whereas, the mission of the Amelia Island Fernandina Restoration Foundation is to promote the preservation of the architectural, historical and archaeological heritage of Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach through advocacy and historic property protection and stewardship, I propose that the Foundation start a fund to solicit money from private contributions and from the City to restore of replace the fountain.  (It might be less expensive to replace the fountain with a replica than to restore it.)   If such a fund is started Babette and I pledge to contribute $1,000.000.

On September 9, 2011, historic preservation expert [Ed] McMahon stated during his presentation to the Foundation, “Public buildings should set the standard in a community.”  I am sure this would include the fountain in question.

Yours truly,

Babette and Aubrey Williams

Mr. Williams emailed this letter to Foy Maloy, Fernandina Beach News Leader publisher, and Susan Steger, Fernandina Observer co-editor.  As a public service, the Fernandina Observer is running both open letters and forwarding copies to members of the Fernandina Beach City Commission as well as City Manager Joe Gerrity.

Open letter to Mr. Aubrey Williams   regarding the Crane Fountain

June 23, 2014           

Fountain 4The Amelia Island Fernandina Restoration Foundation wishes to thank you for your concern regarding the condition of the Crane Fountain located in front of the Historic Nassau County Courthouse on Centre Street.  Your generous offer of $1,000 to spearhead the project demonstrates your continued commitment to our beautiful city and its effort to maintain our unique historic character.

DSCN2909The Restoration Foundation, upon receipt of your contribution, will establish a separate account to be used exclusively for the purpose of the restoration or replacement of the fountain.  We will further solicit private donations that can be sent to the AI-Fernandina Restoration Foundation Fountain Project at P.O. Box 7, Fernandina Beach, FL 32035.  Once sufficient contributions are received and the City of Fernandina Beach commits to the fountain’s maintenance, the Restoration Foundation will initiate the restoration/replacement project.

Mr. Williams, thank you again for bringing attention to the importance of local historic preservation. Public structures not only set standards for a community, but also create a sense of place and identity that is unique to each community.


Susan Mowery, Treasurer

Amelia Island Fernandina Restoration Foundation


For more information on the fountain and its history, readers are invited to read the article that follows.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Ken Supernor
Ken Supernor (@guest_19934)
9 years ago

I WILL Draw Community Attention To This Fountain !!!

Emily Carmain
Emily Carmain(@ecarmainbellsouth-net)
9 years ago

I also wish someone would start a fund or encourage the city to restore & maintain the quaint and beautiful “triple” fountain in front of the train depot. I’ve read/heard great stories about how that fountain came to be, and the interesting things about why it has three basins. It’s old for sure, but not that long ago, it was working for drinking water (I can’t remember when they turned off the water). It would be a nice asset to the community & to visitors walking around downtown, plus would preserve a historic feature as well. I wonder how much it would cost to turn the water back on and/or fix any pipes inside. I’d donate to that fund!