Help Save the Salem Public Library Fountain!

The historic 1850’s Poseidon fountain in the Salem Public Library’s side yard is in danger. For several years it has not been operational and long periods of deferred maintenance have led to a dire situation.

Scroll down for the latest updates!

About the fountain

fountain design

Cast by the Robert Wood Foundry of Philadelphia between 1850 and 1857, Salem sea captain John Bertram purchased the fountain and located it next to his home at the corner of Essex and Monroe Streets. It was one of the few Victorian fountains to survive the scrap drives of World War II.

After his death in the 1882, Captain Bertram’s family donated the estate to the city and the mansion became the Salem Public Library.

Preservation is Needed!

A 1987 Salem News article, ‘Mayday for Neptune,’ details the beginning of a preservation effort, very similar to the one we have started in 2019.  Unfortunately, the 1987 effort did not gain any steam.

From a recent evaluation of the fountain done in December 2018 by Gregory Curci Sculpture, Winthrop, MA:

Large flakes of paint are curling back from the metal and exposing it. These curls also are functioning as water traps, capturing and holding little pockets of water against the now bare metal.  This continuous wetness will promote further corrosion and possibly even ice damage.  The paint flakes that fall off are accumulating on lower surfaces further trapping water against them that will promote corrosion.

Time is not a friend to this fountain. The damage being done to it by the weather is increasing.  Also, costs related to construction and fabrication of replacement parts are increasing… This is a rare surviving artifact from its time period and deserves to be cared for so that it survives into the future.

The time to get going to save this historic Essex St. landmark is now. A combination of City, State and private funds are being solicited for a complete restoration.


March 17, 2023: Central fountain feature with primer paint. Click on the photo to view a larger image.

Fountain central feature with primer image

March 13, 2023: Time-lapse video of foundation work.

Feb 16, 2023: The paint has been removed from the cast iron pieces and the rust is being treated.  Wax molds have been created to replace the missing pieces and will be recast in iron. Check out the before/after photos below.

Fountain Poseidon Before and After 1 image

May 16, 2022: Fountain removed for preservation

Dec 16, 2019: Fountain covered in protective shrink wrap.

Please Help!

Interested donors should make out checks to The Trustees of the Salem Public Library, with the words “fountain restoration” in the memo line. Mail checks to Tara Mansfield, Director, Salem Public Library, 370 Essex Street, Salem MA 01970 or drop them off at the circulation desk on the main floor of the library. The Trustees of the Salem Public Library are a 501c3 tax-exempt organization.

If you have a PayPal account, contribute to the restoration by clicking the PayPal Donate button.


Donate by credit card by clicking the button below.

Thank you for your support!

Friends of the Salem Public Library Fountain Facebook Page Mission Statement

The Friends of the Salem Public Library Fountain are fund-raising to assist in covering costs for the restoration and ongoing preservation of the endangered 1850’s cast iron Poseidon fountain on the grounds of the Salem Massachusetts Public Library. Friends of the Salem Public Library are working on behalf of the Trustees of Salem Public Library, a 501c3 entity.

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