Woman's Christian Temperance Union Fountain – Orange, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura
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Orange, Massachusetts

Woman's Christian Temperance Union Fountain

A remnant of the 19th-century dream to discourage people from drinking booze by offering them water. 

In the 19th century, alcohol consumption became such a problem for families and employers that a movement sprung up dedicated to combating it. The drinking fountain was one of its weapons of choice.

Banning alcohol constitutionally was still decades away, but the Temperance Movement had more subtle ideas to turn to. It was decided in the late-19th century that people would choose not to drink alcohol if they had ready sources of clean water, the absence of which was what had made alcohol so prevalent.

A plan was put in place to install drinking fountains around the country that would provide alternatives to pubs. Some of these fountains still exist, like the ones in Washington, D.C. and New York City, and this one in Orange, Massachusetts.

Dedicated in Spring of 1904, the fountain in Orange has rough cut granite blocks for its base and a polished white stone pyramid for its roof, just under which “Woman’s Christian Temperance Union” is written, one word per side, on a granite frieze. Polished granite columns hold up the roof over the spigots from which people drink, and down lower are basins for dogs, horses, and other animals to drink from.

The fountain in Orange escaped the fate of many temperance fountains, which were destroyed by vandals who took issue with their message. Also unlike other fountains, the one in Orange has stayed in its original location.

Know Before You Go

At the intersection of North Main St and West Main St.