● Published by J. Chambless
To the editor:
The Marshall Square Fountain was removed from its original location in Marshall Square Park sometime in the 1950s. No one knows why, or where it went. In 1982, when Joan and myself, Gene Gagliardi, were restoring the birthplace of Joseph Cope (who was the author of “The History of Chester County”), we did so by using the materials from West Chester’s old Main and curbstones from the grammar school where the Burger King sits today.
We obtained the complete documented history of the farm that dated back to 1731. In that, we read that this was the first farm in the United States to keep Southdown sheep that were shipped from England, along with a shepherd to care for the flock. That is why we gave the farm the name Southdown and to this day, it remains the same.
It seems to me that in this day and age, money can buy anything and promises mean nothing. How disappointed I am in the Friends of Marshall Square committee! I know their goal is to restore Marshall Square to its original grandeur, but is this done with only money in mind and not the REAL story behind the fountain?
The committee was so eager to restore the fountain that they planned on using a replica, and then along came Joan Chandler Gagliardi, who was the one that resurrected the fountain back in 1982 from a back yard in Cheney. She brought it back to an estate-worthy focal point from a pile of rusted metal, placing it in the center of her wraparound driveway at her Southdown Estate in West Chester. It was her baby. It was kept well maintained and free flowing for years until she moved, but Joan continued to concern herself with it -- were
the new owners caring for it? Was it being maintained?
In 2012, Holly Brown called to say that she had heard that we knew where the fountain was and hoped to take pictures of it in order to have a replica made. Knowing the owners, Joan called them and was told that she could even have it if she wanted it! It was by the shed in the back of the barn, come and get it, it’s yours. Joan was thrilled! I then called Holly
Brown to get two trucks and some men together -- we are going for the fountain!
We did, and because Joan wanted to see it in its original location, out of the goodness of her heart, she gave it to the Friends of Marshall Square committee.
Joan passed away August 14th, 2013, and I was told that the borough had given the committee permission to place a plaque dedicating the fountain as the Joan Chandler Gagliardi Memorial Fountain. Now, I learn that someone has donated $45,000 and they
were considered the park's benefactor, and now the fountain would be named in honor of her husband.
Does this mean that if someone else comes along with an even larger donation, the name they choose to memorialize will take precedent? Some things money cannot buy. This should be one of them. Without Joan's donation of the fountain to this committee, this would all be a moot point.
Under these circumstances, and because of Joan’s involvement, I still believe the fountain’s dedication should be the Joan Chandler Gagliardi Memorial Fountain.
I am curious as to whether Mrs. Loew is aware of any of this history, and I believe she should be informed. Additionally, I do not appreciate the method in which you worded the article, as if the fountain just “appeared” instead of giving credit to Joan. It was her fountain to give to the committee, and she did so graciously with her whole heart.
-- Gene Gagliardi