New fountain honors Savannah’s Mary Robinson Myrick

Residents of Savannah’s Ardsley Park neighborhood are welcoming a new ornamental fountain dedicated to a woman who played a pivotal role in beautification efforts in the Hostess City of the South.

A sculpture representing Flora — the goddess of flowers and flowering plants — serves as the fountain’s focal point. [Credit: Benjamin Payne / GPB] News

Located at Kavanaugh Park and aptly named “The Garden Keeper,” the 10-foot-tall cast iron fountain stands in honor of the late Mary Robinson Myrick, who was a driving force behind Forsyth Park’s Garden of Fragrance — Georgia’s first public garden designed for blind and visually impaired visitors.

About a mile south of Forsyth Park, dozens of Savannahians came together on a hot and humid afternoon at the corner of Abercorn Street and Washington Avenue — near where Myrick lived — for an unusual kind of countdown at Kavanaugh Park, led by Mayor Van Johnson.

“Three, two, one — let there be water!” Johnson shouted as Myrick’s great-great-grandson turned on the fountain’s jets, which emanate from a sculpture of a woman in robes representing Flora — the goddess of flowers and flowering plants — hoisting a pitcher of water.

Credit: Benjamin Payne | GPB

Myrick, who died in 1983 at age 94, founded the Downtown Garden Club of Savannah in 1969 and the Ardsley Park Chatham Crescent Garden Club in 1973 — the latter of which spearheaded the effort for the new fountain in her honor.

“As time goes on, the things that she touched are disappearing,” said club co-president Trish Lawrence at the fountain’s commemoration ceremony on June 12, Myrick’s birthday. “We wanted to honor her memory [and] her motto: that ‘Savannah’s beauty is our duty.’”

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Painted dark green and following the Art Nouveau style to stay consistent with Kavanaugh Park’s ornate lamp posts, The Garden Keeper was designed by club member Rose Marie Woulfe in collaboration with manufacturer Robinson Iron, an Alabama firm which also built the Lafayette Square fountain in downtown Savannah.

In what may come as a surprise to those familiar with Savannah, The Garden Keeper arrives as Ardsley Park’s one and only fountain to be found in the lush neighborhood’s 12 public parks.

According to the garden club’s permit application for the project, Myrick’s contributions extended well beyond Georgia: working with a University of Iowa instructor, she helped create a national partnership between landscape design schools and garden clubs throughout the U.S.

Alderman Nick Palumbo, who represents Ardsley Park as part of his district in Savannah City Council, expressed his gratitude for the garden club’s fundraising for the roughly $90,000 project, which also included extensive landscaping at Kavanaugh Park.

“I’m sure that the neighborhood’s founders — the Lattimores, which their original residence overlooks this very park — would be absolutely floored that their neighborhood creation, over a century later, would be so beloved and cherished by this community,” Palumbo said.

Although privately funded — as Savannah code does not allow for public funds to be spent on monuments — the fountain now belongs to the City of Savannah, which Palumbo vowed will look after it for generations to come.

“Know that while we are going to turn it on here today and you have given something to us, we are going to give it back to you,” he said. “We will maintain this forevermore.”

This story comes to Rough Draft Atlanta through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

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