Downtown, History & Tourism

Landmarks of Mansfield: Vasbinder Fountain

7 Sep , 2020  

By 1812Blockhouse

It sits now as it originally did, anchoring Central Park and providing a pleasant oasis of sight and sound.

The Vasbinder Fountain is a Mansfield landmark of the first order. Dedicated on July 4, 1881, it was removed in the late 1950s during the creation of the then-controversial Park Avenue cut-through, and after storage and a temporary placement at Malabar Farm, it was returned to Central Park in 1979. The move took place after community outcry following announced plans to move the fountain to a neighborhood revitalization program in Springfield, Ohio.

As a commemorative plate shares, the fountain was donated by David and Jane Vasbinder.The Vasbinders were brother and sister, and lived in a large house on the northwest corner of Park Avenue West and Mulberry Street, now the location of the Park Professional Building. In the 1870 census, David’s occupation was given as “farmer,” and Jane’s as “keeping house.” While others on the same street had listed assets around $6,000 to $10,000, David was said to have approximately $107,000 in real estate and personal property.

The Vasbinders’ parents, Ephraim and Sarah, arrived in Mansfield in 1820, just a few years after the founding of Richland County.

The land value component of that figure was in large part family real estate acquired in the 1820s in the Possum Run area.

According to a 1970 Mansfield News Journal story, the Vasbinders owned the American House (now gone at the southwest corner of the Square), and swapped the building for a massive cemetery monument, which still stands over the family plot in Mansfield Cemetery. Neither sibling married.

At the 1881 fountain dedication, the featured speaker was pioneer Henry Hedges, who expressed hope in front of thousands of onlookers that the gift would be cared for and bless the community for decades to come.”Here eye shall be delighted by glittering drops and glistening jets,” Hedges told those assembled. “Joy smiles in the fountain, health flows in the rills, and the ribbons of silver unwind from the hills.”

135 years later, it still serves its original function. It is crowned by a statue representing the Goddess of Fortune.

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