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Kalamazoo's controversial historic fountain to be removed

Mar 6, 2018

Kalamazoo's Fountain of the Pioneers will be removed later this year.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reports the Kalamazoo City Commission voted 5-1 early Tuesday following a city commission meeting that began Monday night on the future of the Bronson Park fountain.  

During the meeting of the Kalamazoo City Commission, some residents decried the piece as racist, while others argued that it's a work of art that can teach people about history. The fountain depicts a Native American wearing a headdress and facing a weapon-wielding settler. Some say it celebrates the forced removal of Native Americans. 

In March of last year, a $2.8 million master plan for the park was approved, which included $1.2 million in repairs to the fountains’ concrete and pumping and filtration system. A new plan will be developed to put something in its place.

Last October, the city approved a resolution to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day instaed of Columbus Day. Citizens also called for the removal of the fountain at that meeting.

Constructed in 1939 and designed by Alfonso Iannelli, the fountain is on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Bronson Park Historic District. According to the Kalamazoo Public Library, Iannelli stated the following regarding the fountain:

“The advance of the pioneers and the generations that follow, showing the movement westward, culminating in the tower-symbol of the pioneer while the Indian is shown in a posture of noble resistance, yet being absorbed as the white man advances; the pattern of the parapet rail indicates the rich vegetation and produce of the land.”

City officials say the fountain will be dismantled and put into storage later this year, though unsure of where it will be stored.