Milwaukie gathers to dedicate a fountain for the library - again
by: patrick sherman, Sculptor Lee Kelly stands with the fountain he was commissioned to create more than 30 years ago, now standing in front of Milwaukie's Ledding Library.

Against an audible backdrop of falling water, the citizens of Milwaukie came together, as their predecessors had a generation before, to dedicate the Peake Memorial Fountain on the grounds of the city's Ledding Library.

Les Peake commissioned the fountain from Oregon sculptor Lee Kelly, in 1972, to honor his parents: Silas and Eva Peake.

'It was a way to honor his parents. They were long-time residents of Milwaukie, and very civic-minded,' said Ted Downs, Les Peake's son. 'They started Peake Memorial Chapel here in 1932, and it's still going in that same location.'

The fountain was first dedicated in 1975, when it was located near the amphitheater behind the library.

'It stayed there until vandalism became a problem,' said library director Joe Sandfort.

A frequent target for pranksters, the fountain was removed in the mid-80s, then rediscovered years later by neighborhood activist Ed Zumwalt. He told Library Circulation Supervisor Nancy Wittig about his discovery.

'We went to North Clackamas Parks and found it buried under all of this stuff - basketball hoops and whatnot,' she recalled.

Planning to put the fountain back on public display got underway in 2003. Several options were considered before settling on its current location, along Harrison Street between the library and the new North Main development.

'We wanted to make sure it had more visibility for the public to enjoy it, and also so the police could keep an eye on it,' said Wittig.

Mayor Jim Bernard hailed the fountain as yet another outward sign of progress in Milwaukie.

'It's exciting to have this fountain here in this space that was otherwise pretty much useless,' he said, addressing more than 50 people who gathered for the event. 'Getting the fountain up and running again involved a lot of hard work by a lot of people - this happened because all of you wanted it so badly.

'Once again, we have demonstrated to residents and visitors alike that Milwaukie is making big changes downtown.'

Lee Kelly, the sculptor who crafted the fountain more than 30 years ago, was also on hand and offered his congratulations to the men who re-installed it.

'My hat's off to the Milwaukie Public Works crew,' he said. 'You guys saw this through - I wasn't sure it was even going to be worth fixing.'

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