Did You Know?: Loeb Fountain

August 16, 2013  

Current image Loeb Fountain

Loeb Fountain has been in its current location in Founders Park since 1993. It was originally completed in 1959, when it sat in front of Hovde Hall, where the Purdue Mall Fountain is now located. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)
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Loeb Fountain, the iconic landmark at the center of Founders Park, originally sat in front of Hovde Hall, where it served as the centerpiece of central campus.

Prominent local residents Bert and June Loeb donated the original funds to build the fountain. It was completed in 1959 in honor of Solomon Loeb, who was Bert's father and owned Loeb's Department Store in Lafayette.

The original Loeb Fountain included a reservoir and was surrounded by a low, concrete wall topped with a granite cap, which students and other pedestrians once used as a bench. The original fountain also included a series of colored lights that transitioned in sequence, says John Collier, director of campus master planning.

In 1988, Loeb Fountain was placed in storage in preparation for the renovation of Purdue Mall. During that renovation, the Purdue Mall Fountain -- which has since become one of Purdue's primary architectural icons -- was built in its place.

The Purdue Mall Fountain, with its larger stature and distinctive architecture, was a more appropriately scaled feature for the renovated Purdue Mall, Collier says. In honor of the former Loeb Fountain, the Purdue Mall Fountain is outfitted with a series of colored lights with a transition sequence similar to the former Loeb Fountain.

Historical image Loeb Fountain

This image shows Loeb Fountain as it originally appeared outside of Hovde Hall. (Photo provided)
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Loeb Fountain remained in storage until 1993, when it became the centerpiece of the Founders Park project. Founders Park is east of Matthews Hall and southeast of Beering Hall.

"Loeb Fountain is aligned with the Hello Walk on Memorial Mall so you can see it from the west doors of Stewart Center and from State Street between Matthews and Stone halls," Collier says. "We wanted to give this iconic fountain a special place on campus, both to honor its history as a campus centerpiece and to establish it as a landmark for new generations of Boilermakers."

When it was reinstalled in Founders Park, instead of a reservoir and surrounding wall Loeb Fountain was rebuilt with a ring of short columns, called bollards, which house the jets that shoot streams of water toward its center. The fountain retains its original, tiered design, although it no longer has colored lights.

In 2002, Loeb Fountain underwent a renovation that included repairs to the surrounding pavement and tweaks to address safety concerns. The coarse-cut granite surface underneath the fountain was replaced with less coarse, colored concrete that mimics granite, and each bollard was outfitted with four jets instead of two to reduce the force of the water.

Loeb Fountain is activated each April before Grand Prix and is shut down in October during the week following Homecoming. Excluding maintenance, it's active from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

Writer: Amanda Hamon, 49-61325, ahamon@purdue.edu

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