RESTORATION has begun on a historic fountain in the Geelong Botanic Gardens.
Originally erected in Market Square in 1904, the Hitchcock Fountain – donated by Geelong business man and Councillor George Michelmore Hitchook – was moved to the gardens in 1912.
Now 116 years old, it was sculpted by German-Australian artist Otto Waschatz and the restoration process is uncovering forgotten detail, including the red and gold tongues of the three detailed dragon fish.
A plaque displaying Hitchock’s name and the year 1904 was also found under the footpath that surrounds the fountain today.
City Works, Parks and Gardens chair, Cr Anthony Aitken, said the Hitchcock fountain was a significant piece of Geelong’s history.
“It’s amazing to see how many historic gems we’ve already found on the fountain; it shows how valuable it is to restore these pieces,” Cr Aitken said.
“By bringing the fountain back to its former glory, it will make a fantastic feature in the centre of the Gardens.”
The Friends of the Geelong Botanic Gardens is funding the restoration project, donating $23,000 from the Friends’ Gift Fund which each year spends a percentage of donations on projects for the Geelong Botanic Gardens.
Friends of the Geelong Botanic Gardens president Allison Martland said the Gift Fund donations allowed the Friends to support the gardens in practical ways.
“The Friends are proud to be able to support this historic botanic garden and help tell its story to people of all generations for many years to come,” Ms Martland said.
“We also contribute to the gardens through our ‘Geelong School of Botanical Art’ and free guided tours of the Gardens.”
The restoration process includes cleaning, pressure washing, painting, and adding gold paint to the dragonfish to match the original design, following heritage guidelines.
The fountain pond will be repainted to match the fountain’s colour, and the pathway will be rearranged and resurfaced to match the height of the fountain.
The restoration project will take about one month to complete, depending on weather conditions.