Standing at the corner of Market, Geary, and Kearny Streets in downtown San Francisco, Lotta’s Fountain is the City’s oldest monument. In contrast with many of the San Francisco’s other monuments, Lotta’s Fountain was not given to the City by a politician or wealthy industrialist. Lotta Crabtree, a famous Vaudeville performer who first rose to fame in San Francisco during its Gold Rush years, bought the fountain as a gift for the City in 1875.
Since being given to the City, Lotta’s Fountain has borne witness to a number of significant events in San Francisco’s history. Among the most notable is its role in the immediate aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, when Lotta’s Fountain served as a meeting point for people searching for loved ones. On Christmas Eve, 1910, famed opera singer Madame Luisa Tetrazinni sang at the fountain for the people of San Francisco, drawing an estimated 250,000 people to the surrounding streets for her performance.
ARG Conservation Services (ARG/CS) was contracted by the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) to perform conservation treatments on Lotta’s Fountain, a painted, cast iron sculpture topped with a lantern and ornamented with bronze elements. The fountain exhibited general soiling, chipping paint, spray paint covering prior graffiti, missing cast iron pieces, cracks, scratches, graffiti, and trash in its 4 basins.
Conservation work included: general cleaning of the monument with a hot water pressure washer; removal of heavier stains and graffiti using solvents and degreasers; removal of loose paint and filling of cracks and scratches; painting of areas with paint loss and areas where spray paint had been applied to cover prior graffiti; recasting of the missing cast iron piece and installation; and custom fabrication of basin covers and installation. All applied paint was color matched to the fountain’s existing paint.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco Arts Commission