|Location:||Southeast corner of Public Square Park|
|Architectural Style:||Copper Fountain|
|Year Built:||1883; restored c. 1990|
|Original Owner:||City of Mount Vernon|
This beautiful, ornate copper fountain lends a touch of grace to the Public Square. It rests in a large cement basin with a small, elegant wrought iron fence. The fountain consists of three leaf-like tiers of diminishing size, with a central spout at the top. It is carved with various birds, frogs, sea horses, plants, and other elements inspired by nature. In 1990, the fountain was sent to the original manufacturer for restoration, which included recreating the upper-most tier. When the fountain returned completely restored to its location on the southeast corner of the Public Square, it had a brand new cement base, with the same wrought iron fence that has surrounded the fountain for decades.
During the early half of the 20th century, many citizens, including some members of the city council, had an unusual idea to enhance the recreational aspects of the Public Square by turning the base of the Cooper Fountain into an aquarium. The notion of exhibiting native species of fish in the fountain was first proposed at a City Council meeting in January, 1917. Later that year, the plan was executed, with several bass, catfish, minnows, and even a turtle taking residence on the Public Square. In 1919, when a small group of Mount Vernon gentlemen went fishing on the Walhonding River near Nellie, Ohio, they promised to bring back several specimen of swordfish and flying fish for the purpose of placing in the Cooper Fountain. Needless to say, the intensive maintenance necessary by having fish in the fountain is likely the reason that the Cooper Fountain is no longer the Cooper "Aquarium."
The fountain was donated to the City of Mount Vernon by Charles Cooper, founder of a local ironworks that transformed, over several decades, into the internationally prominent Cooper Industries of the present day. Brothers Charles and Elias Cooper established the Mount Vernon Iron Works in 1834, which mainly produced plows, hollow ware, and other cast iron products necessary and desirable within a farming community. By 1840, the brothers added threshing machines to their line of products. In 1842, they added sawmills and steam engines, which would ultimately become their specialty item. Charles Cooper served as a member of the Mount Vernon City Council in the years 1845, 1849, and 1850, and was also one of the early board members for the Knox County National Bank.