A rededication ceremony will be held Wednesday to celebrate the first phase of Portland’s Lincoln Park restoration.

The city of Portland and the Friends of Lincoln Park, a group created in 2013 with the goal of restoring the park, will host the ceremony, during which the park’s newly restored 2,000-pound cast-iron fountain will be turned on.

Frank E. Reilly, president of the Friends of Lincoln Park, said the ceremony will be held in the park at 4 p.m., with a choir and about seven guest speakers, including Mayor Ethan Strimling and Portland’s Director of Parks Ethan Hipple.

The first phase of restoration involved repaving the park’s concrete pathways and restoring the fountain, which was installed in 1871. The fountain was cast in Paris at the Val d’Osne foundry in 1870, and according to Reilly, is only one of three of its kind in the U.S.

The $130,000 restoration project was funded by the friends group, a nonprofit that is partnering with the city to raise money to restore the fountain and park. The city of Portland also allocated $250,000 to dig up and replace the park’s walkways.

The Picnic Arts and Music Festival was held in Portland’s Lincoln Park on Aug. 25, 2012. Kids found a cool respite in the fountain during the festival.

The project was the first phase of an effort to restore all of Lincoln Park – the city’s first public park. Efforts to create Lincoln Park started four days after the Great Fire of 1866, which began on the western waterfront and destroyed one third of the city’s downtown commercial district before burning itself out on the slopes of Munjoy Hill.


The 2½-acre parcel bordered by Congress, Franklin, Federal and Pearl streets was acquired as a firebreak to prevent future fires from wiping out the city. City officials originally named it Phoenix Square on Jan. 7, 1867, before renaming it two weeks later as Lincoln Park, in honor of the president who had been assassinated nearly two years earlier.

The fountain was dismantled last winter and transported by truck in sections to the Sagadahoc County town of Georgetown, where sculptor conservator Jonathan Taggart, also a member of the Friends of Lincoln Park, worked to restore the fountain in his studio. The interior was removed, cleaned and repainted; the fountain’s basin was relined and replumbed; and a spire was added, similar to an original spire that went missing.

As the Friends of Lincoln Park’s “chief spear carrier,” Reilly said his interest in parks goes back to his childhood. When he was growing up in New Jersey, his mother would take him and his sister to public parks, where they would eat lunch and play. Reilly also visited Central Park in New York often, he said.

“When I grew up, that was part of our pleasure,” he said. “I realized the value of parks to people, especially young people.”

Based on his own experience, Reilly also learned that parks could be valuable to adults. He was a Madison Avenue advertising executive and businessman in the 1960s, and would still visit Central Park, as he had done in his youth, to meditate and “come up with answers.”

“City parks have always served a great purpose,” he said. “They provide that space, that serenity businesspeople need.”

The second phase of restoring Lincoln Park involves the park’s gates and fencing. Work on that phase is expected to begin in the spring.

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