What happened to all of the wonderful things that were once associated with the Stotesburys?

A Lead Fountain Piece from the Large Fountain at Whitemarsh Hall


The large fountain at the southern end of the Main Garden was completed in the fall of 1923. It featured a coordinated set of large lead pieces (total weight of ten tons) fabricated in Paris by French sculptor Jules-Édouard Visseaux. The ensemble included a centerpiece surrounded by six large dolphins and two large tortoises, each of which sprayed water toward the center from a position near the perimeter of the immense fountain basin.


Photo Source: Springfield Township Historical Society

The centerpiece consisted of one Triton figure and two Naiade figures holding what appears to be a large seashell spraying water in a jet straight up into the air. The trio sat on top of two immense dolphins spewing water toward the east and the west. On the north and the south sides of this center pedestal, two tortoises sprayed water toward the figures in the centerpiece. The photo below shows the centerpiece viewed from the west; in the foreground is one of the perimeter dolphins facing the centerpiece.


Photo Source: Springfield Township Historical Society


Visseaux's design for this fountain (and the approval of this design by the Stotesburys) may have been inspired by the Fontaine du Bassin Soufflot in the Place Edmond Rostand in Paris, France, which was installed in 1864 by the sculptor Gustave Crauk (photo shown below).

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons/Moonik


By the time Whitemarsh Hall was demolished in 1980, the garden fountain and sculpture pieces that could not be removed and sold had been severely damaged. Sadly, none of the large lead fountain pieces survived intact on the premises. Fortunately, at least one piece of this magnificent ensemble was saved. In 2014, one of the large lead perimeter dolphins was sold at a Christies New York auction as a "Cast Lead Figural Fountain," although its provenance was not listed in the description. This 46 inch-long lead dolphin appeared for sale soon thereafter in an antique store in Palm Desert, California.


Photo Source: William Kelly Oneill

It languished undiscovered until an astute buyer (William Kelly Oneill) who was familiar with the Whitemarsh Hall fountain discovered the piece and snapped it up in 2021 for his personal collection.



Photo Source: William Kelly Oneill

Perhaps there are other pieces out there that--when found--could be used to re-create the great Whitemarsh Hall fountain.


If you are aware of the current whereabouts of other similar items that were once associated with the Stotesburys, please feel free to add to our guest book.
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