Burnham Park's Historic Wallach Fountain
Chicago’s parks include an impressive collection of public art. Many of these artworks have special meaning and significance to Chicagoans. This week we sat down with Barbara Mayers, a longtime resident of Hyde Park, to talk about the Wallach Fountain and its significance to her family.
HOW THE FOUNTAIN CAME TO BE
The Wallach Fountain is located on Promontory Point along the Lakefront Trail in Hyde Park. The fountain was donated to Burnham Park by David Wallach, a south side resident who owned a successful photography business in the 1800s. When David Wallach died in 1894 he left behind donations for several Chicago charities in his will. One of these was a $5,000 gift to commission a fountain in Burnham Park that would quench the thirst for both “Man and Beast.” It took more than 40 years before his request was fulfilled by the Chicago Park District. Artists Frederick and Elisabeth Hibbard produced the exquisite sculptural fountain that is topped by a bronze fawn.The fountain was finally in 1939 with drinking spots for both people and their furry friends.
THE WISSLERS AND THE WALLACH FOUNTAIN
In 1939 Barbara Mayers’ parents, Robert and Elizabeth Wissler, moved to Hyde Park. They loved the neighborhood and spent much of their time in Burnham Park. They eventually had 4 children, all of whom were raised in the area. Robert Wissler built his career as a professor of pathology at the University of Chicago, and Elizabeth Wissler was a medical social worker trained at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. Dr. and Mrs. Wissler’s love of Hyde Park was passed down to their daughter, Barbara, who stayed in the area to raise her own children. After their parents’ death, Barbara and her sister Mary Graham decided to give back to the places in Chicago their parents loved the most. They have provided a generous gift to the Chicago Parks Foundation to restore the Wallach Fountain since this part of Burnham Park and its lovely artwork were among their parent’s most “beloved places in Hyde Park”. Now, the fountain’s restoration is progressing in memory of the Wisslers.
After their parents’ death, Barbara and her sister Mary Graham decided to give back to the places in Chicago their parents loved the most. They decided to restore the Wallach Fountain, since it was one of their parent’s most “beloved places in Hyde Park”. Now, the fountain’s restoration is progressing in memory of the Wisslers.