Workers ensure a 30,000-pound piece of granite lines up with stainless steel dowels as it is lowered onto a concrete base as part of a fountain features for Turn to the River. Staff photo by Howard Greninger
Workers ensure a 30,000-pound piece of granite lines up with stainless steel dowels as it is lowered onto a concrete base as part of a fountain features for Turn to the River. Staff photo by Howard Greninger
Artist Brad J. Goldberg watched Monday as a crane lowered the second of four large black granite sections onto a concrete base between the Vigo County Courthouse and Terre Haute City Hall.

Each section weighs 30,000 pounds and forms the centerpiece of Phase 1 of the Turn to the River project slated to connect Wabash Avenue and the Wabash River. The new artwork is a sculpture that will include a fountain and granite seating.

"They are each 8-foot by- 8-foot by- about 30 inches tall," Golberg said. "I chose the black granite because I wanted the contrast with the Indiana limestone" used on both the Courthouse and City Hall.

"There is a hard water condition in Terre Haute which makes limestone, especially with water that is chlorinated, deteriorate so I went with the granite that is an impervious stone," Goldberg said. "It is absolutely a perfect material for doing a fountain."

Goldberg, who lives in Dallas, Texas, spent about nine months carving the stone in Cold Spring, Minnesota with the stone coming from a location north of that, he said.

"I always try to keep it so that you are not trucking [the stone] across country," he said. "There were a lot of steps, as you start out with big blocks and you saw them until it becomes four-sided. You put a rough texture on the sides, then carve out the river channel."

Prior to lowering the stones in place, stainless steel dowels were drilled into the heavy duty base, with some concrete spread in small areas on the base, with the stones set directly into the dowels. The base is about 5 feet deep.

The fountain is based on an aerial photograph of a portion of the Wabash River as it comes through Terre Haute, Goldberg said. Water will fall on the west and fall again on the east side, while the rest of the feature always has moving water.

Five granite benches will surround the feature. One of the benches will be in front of the courthouse, but will have a planter box behind it.

"It is a bench the same as the others, but there will be a platform behind it to serve as a small stage for announcements. You can sit or stand on it, but there will be some stairs going to it from the ground," said Mary Kramer, executive director of Wabash Valley Art Spaces.

Additionally, other large wooden benches with backs will line the southern and northern edge of the fountain plaza, some with small tables, Kramer said. "We have charging stations for cell phones and laptops, with not only plugs, but USB ports. Also, a lot of landscaping behind it.

"We are landscaping totally in front of City Hall and around the south side, with new walkways that will tie into existing walkways until we get to the next sections," Kramer said.

The fountain feature comprises the $1.2-million initial phase, funding by several public and private entities and donors, and overseen by Art Spaces and the city of Terre Haute, Kramer said. It replaces a mid-1970s era, nonfunctional fountain that obscured the view of the 19th century Courthouse and City Hall, completed in 1937, both on the National Register of Historic Places.

"Turn to the River is our biggest project ever. It involves this entire plaza. Our next phase will be the event space in the city parking lot, and the city is now working on the parking lot," Kramer said. "We have not done the design development of the event space yet."

"Once the [Vigo County] jail is relocated, the walkway will get redone as a wider designed promenade and the entrance from Third Street will get redesigned. The last part will be the overlook at the river," Kramer said.

The fountain will get up and running this month, but will then be shut down and protected with coverings, Kramer said, "because we have another one and a half months of work to do here, so we will not have a dedication until the fall."
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