Cogswell Fountain

click on small pictures to enlarge

Cogwell_statue.gif (188220 bytes)

Central Park, Rockville
Vernon, CT 

Rockville Reminder story 11/1/05

Cogswell Fountain History

Cogswell Family Association --



Town Plans To Restore Fountain As Part Of Park Project
April 6, 2004
By LEE FOSTER, Courant Staff Writer

VERNON -- Dr. Henry D. Cogswell would be so proud.

The town is planning to restore the Cogswell fountain as part of the renovation of Central Park in Rockville.

In 1883, Cogswell, a San Francisco real estate tycoon, donated the fountain to the town in honor of his cousin William Cogswell, a local builder.

The Rockville city council was pleased to accept the donation, but once it got a look at the fountain, some townspeople had second thoughts, according to town historian S. Ardis Abbott.

Cogswell was not only a millionaire dentist, he was a temperance crusader and an eccentric philanthropist. He believed the availability of clean drinking water from public fountains would steer the common man away from the evils of "distilled liquors," so he pledged to erect a fountain for every 100 saloons across the country.

Like all of his fountains, the memorial he sent to Rockville was topped with a life-sized statue of himself holding a glass of water in one hand and a copy of the Temperance Pledge in the other. Unlike the seven fountains he had installed in San Francisco, the Rockville fountain is made of zinc, not bronze or granite,

The anti-alcohol message didn't go over well here, where residents had voted against the town "going dry."

"There were something like 33 saloons in Rockville," Abbott said Monday. "They were the social clubs of the working people."

"In the middle of the night one night, someone took down the statue and threw it into the lake," Abbott said.

The constabulary dragged the statue out of Shenipsit Lake and reinstated Dr. Cogswell atop the fountain, but soon he disappeared again. The good dentist's likeness did not reappear until 1908, when he was discovered leaning against a downtown building with a sign around his neck, "I've come back for old home week."

Stored for safekeeping, the statue was sent to a scrap drive during World War II. The fountain has been topped with a stone urn since then.

Town Administrator Laurence Shaffer does not have any good photographs of the fountain in its original state on which to base a restoration. On Monday, Shaffer put out a call for help.

Anyone with information about the fountain and especially photographs is asked to call Ryan Kane at the parks and recreation department at 860-870-3520.


Cogswell-SanJoseCityhall.jpg (29686 bytes)

"It was a dump, an architectural monstrosity" - Harry Farrell

Venerable City Hall with statue of Henry D. Cogswell in foreground.

Built in 1887 for $139,482.00. The City Council stipulated that no brick or sewer pipe made by Chinese labor should be used. It was designed by Theodore Lenzen in a style that is hard to describe. The American Institute of Architects summed it up thusly, "A design importation, reflecting a very bad period of German architecture. It is not typical of any period of design, and it is not a reflection of the art and culture of the community." The term "bastard baroque" has been applied to it. A non-functioning Victorian cupola topped off the gingerbread Gargantua.

Mayor Samuel Boring made the dedicatory speech on the evening of April 17, 1889. The first order of business, after Boring's speech, was a protest against spending money on repairing Market Street.

The ground floor of the building served as the city jail, and sported a drive-through entrance. The cell blocks were on the south side and the drunk tank, described by Harry Farrell as "malodorous from seven decades of boozy sweat, vomit, urine, and Lysol," was on the north. Prisoners would scrape tin cups against the bars, attracting the attention of God fearing San Joseans, and disturbing the monkey business of Council meetings on the floor above.

San Francisco dentist/prohibitionist Henry D. Cogswell provided statues of himself to cities - based on the number of saloons. California's cities qualified for many statues, one of which was placed in The Plaza. The statue was constructed of cast-iron, and mounted on a base that provided drinking facilities for both man and horse. In 1944, the statue was ignominiously melted down during a scrap metal drive. When The Mountain Charley Chapter of E. Clampus Vitus tried to replace the statue, it was discovered that all copies had been destroyed.



cogswellfountainPacific Grove.jpg (30157 bytes)
Pacific Grove, CA

Cogswell Fountain was a water fountain erected by a temperance advocate. It was in Jewell Park until WWII, when it was melted down for the war effort.


cogswellfountain Washington,DC.jpg (17157 bytes)

Photos and text copyright 2001 Jean K. Rosales and Michael R. Jobe, All Rights Reserved
Subject:  Cogswell Temperance Fountain
 Year: 1880
 Sculptor: Henry D. Cogswell
 Location: Indiana Plaza
( Pennsylvania Ave. & 7th )

Henry D. Cogswell was an eccentric dentist from San Francisco who made a fortune from real estate and mining stocks. He wanted to be remembered forever. He also believed Americans were drinking too much alcohol. So, he paid for the building of a number of water fountains like this all over the United States.

Cogswell himself designed each fountain and each is unique. Atop the DC fountain is a water crane; in the center are two entwined dolphins.

The Cogswell Fountain in DC no longer has water, although there is a city water fountain located a few feet away. Given the notoriously poor quality of DC's water, one wonders whether Cogswell's scheme to get Washingtonians to drink water for their health is such a great idea.

NOTE: For many years, DC had a Cogswell Society. The master of ceremonies at their dinner was known as the "lead Crane". He would offer a toast to Temperance; the proper response (with drink in hand) was "I'll drink to that!"


cogswell01.jpg (24205 bytes)

cogswell02c.jpg (28618 bytes)

cogswell03rc.jpg (18313 bytes)


All's Well That Ends With a Drink to Cogswell
How Better to Honor a Temperance Activist Than Guzzling in His Honor?
(By Greg Kitsock. Reproduced from the Washington City Paper, March 6 1992) 

On the first Friday of each month, Washington's exclusive Cogswell 
Society gathers to revere the memory of their namesake, Dr. Henry Cogswell,
 a 19th- century San Francisco dentist and ardent temperance activist.

They drink, they swear, and they attribute fictitious accomplishments 
to the inventor of a new method of installing false teeth. At the February 
assembly, one Cogswellian claimed that Dr. Henry had also devised a 
glow-in-the-dark condom "for when you want to rise and shine."

Ostensibly, the Cogswell Society was formed to protect the good 
doctor's enduring monument: a grotesque Victorian drinking fountain that 
still stands outside the Archives Metro station. But in practice, the 
society is an excuse for an afternoon of convivial rippling, a secret 
fraternity with its own arcane and pointless rituals, where Washington 
lawyers, businessmen, and other professionals can let down their hair. 
Infiltrating their ranks is no easy task. At any given time, there are 
exactly 12 active members, selected by unanimous vote of their peers. A 
13th seat is kept open in the never-ending hunt for the perfect Cogswellian. 

"We were going to nominate W.C. Fields, but we found out he died in 
1946," says Dave Buswell, president of Orbis International and one of the 
founding fathers of the group. 

The role call of Cogswell irregulars (non-resident members and 
associate members no longer active) includes cartoonist Jim Berry, 
political satirist Mark Russell, and TV pundit John McLaughlin. 
The Cogswell Society was born 19 years ago when a group of Capitol 
Hill toastmasters, over liquid lunch at Duke Ziebert's, resolved to found 
a modern Washingtonian equivalent of the old Algonquin Club. They wracked 
their brains for a suitable name, until one afternoon when Buswell (who 
then worked for the Federal Trade Commission) gazed out his window at 7th 
& Penn and spied Cogswell's Temperance Fountain in the square below. 

Cogswell was not really a bad sort: a self-educated, self-made 
millionaire who turned to philanthropy in his old age. His chief fault 
seems to be hubris in believing that his statuary would inspire men to 
drink more water. Washington was one of about 15 cities to receive 
fountains from the tee totaling tooth-puller. In the Cogswellian canon, the 
fountain is "a tasteful Victorian blend of bronze, lead and granite, 
ornamented with pleasing rococo filigree and curlicues." Its four stone 
columns support a canopy on whose sides the virtues of Faith, Hope, 
Charity, and Temperance are chiseled. The centerpiece is a pair of 
entwined dolphins-- "obviously copulating," remarks one member. Buswell 
and the other original members found the sculpture so uniquely ugly that 
they assigned themselves the mission of guarding it from vandals, graffiti 
artists, and unappreciative bureaucrats. They'll tell you proudly that if 
not for their lobbying, the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation 
would long ago have disassembled the fountain and carted it off to a warehouse. 

My brush with the Cogswellians occurred after I published an article 
in City Paper on the history of the fountain two months ago ("Fountain of 
Hooch," 113). A few weeks later, Cogswellian Howard Tucker, managing 
director for Capital Insights Inc., phoned me to mention a glaring omission:
 "You didn't mention us!"  "Well, I couldn't get anyone to admit they were a member," I countered. 

Tucker invited me to the group's next meeting. The Cogswellians are 
highly migratory. Since 1983 they've gathered in 82 different places: 
restaurants, bars, members' homes, private clubs, colonial mansions, the 
presidential yacht Sequoia, and even St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill. 

Today's meeting takes place in the upstairs banquet room of the 
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge on 5th Street NW The place has been 
decorated with the group's icons: a likeness of the bewhiskered Cogswell 
in the prime of his manhood; a circa 1970 photo of the Temperance Fountain 
with the Apex Liquor Store looming in the background; a cartoon of a 
veritable redwood labeled the "Temperance Tree" bearing such figurative 
fruits as tranquility, a productive life, and a peaceful death. 
The master of ceremonies is addressed as the Lead (as in the metal) 
Heron, in honor of the gangly bird perched atop Cogswell's fountain. He picks the
 site and makes the arrangements. This month, London Daily Express
bureau chief Ross Mark has that honor. "Gentlemen, a toast to temperance!" he shouts. 
"I'll drink to that!" reply the assembled members, hoisting wine 
glasses and balancing on one leg in imitation of the heron. It's a ritual 
without basis in fact: 

A close inspection of Cogswell's cast-metal crane 
reveals both his feet firmly attached to the cupola. "It's just a shtick 
we're used to; besides, water birds are supposed to stand on one leg," 
explains Buswell afterward. 

Bill Day, director of public affairs for Ford Motor Company and 
another charter member of the group, takes the podium to explain the black 
and blue riband with the miniature bronze coat hanger that each member 
"The blue stands for the society's pusillanimousness in the face of a 
threatening city bureaucracy, and the black stands for the openness with 
which the society conducts its activities. The coat hanger is a constant 
reminder of neglect." In fact, it symbolizes the hanger that an unknown 
vandal wrapped around the heron's beak about 1960 and was still there 
moldering when Ruswell popped his head our the office window and had his epiphany. 

Deane Maury, a Washington realtor, continues with a few meditations on 
Cogswell the man, considerably embellishing the doctor's official 
biography. "it's believed he gave up dentistry because he couldn't stand 
his patients' bad breath, so he became a proctologist." 
A couple years ago, the society discovered Cogswell's great-nephew 
working in the Treasury Department and invited him to a meeting, recalls Tucker.

"He was so insulted that he left during the soup." 
"I think you can see that we really do have affection for the old 
guy," noted Ruswell. "But you just can't come to our meetings and have a thin skin." 

To Jay Coupe, a retired Navy captain, falls the task of recounting the 
history of D.C.'s Temperance Fountain. When he brings up the name of Sen. 
Sheridan Downey, the room erupts on cue in a chorus of boos and catcalls. 
Downey, a California senator in the 1940s, had suggested that the fountain 
"be torn down by chains and dragged away." 

"We have long known that Downey is to aestheticism what David Duke is 
to the NAACP, what the Emir of Kuwait is to gratitude, what Mike Tyson is 
to foreplay,'' huffs Coupe. 

As unofficial sommelier, it is Buswell's task to carry on the 
tradition of insulting the house wine. This particular vintage, he 
relates, hailed from Botswana where it was pre-aged by being fermented 
from raisins. He traces its manufacture from the initial fermentation, 
sparked by the local population having an orgy in the vat, to its purchase 
at a bargain-basement liquor store whose motto is "We will sell no wine 
before you pay for it." 

Over steak and potatoes, the Period of Continuing Enlightenment 
begins. In counterclockwise fashion, each of the Cogswellians and their 
guests rises, introduces himself, and delivers scathing commentary (the 
more sexually explicit or scatological, the better) on some topical issue 
or personality. February's meeting took place shortly after Marion Harry's 
latest sexual indiscretion and shortly before the Jeffrey Dahmer trial 
started, prompting some real groaners. ("Did you hear about Marion Barry's 
new program for the city! It's called Head Start." "Do you know that Jeff 
Dahmer got arrested for passing his friend in an alley!") 

Another speaker offered a pop quiz to detect latent David Duke 
supporters. !"Do you have curtains in your pickup truck but not in pour 
living room? If your porch collapsed, would more than three dogs die?") 
Every meeting has a Pigeon, an after dinner speaker who gives a brief 
talk on some issue of national interest, often the one serious interlude 
in the otherwise bawdy affair. This afternoon's Pigeon is Rob Williams, 
congressional liaison and PR officer for United Airlines, and he details 
the airline industry's financial woes in the post-Gulf War era. 
Two hours after it began, the meeting breaks up. As the euphoria 
wrought by the wine and camaraderie wears off, one of the members realizes 
that there's a reporter at the other end of the table scribbling away and 
buttonholes me with a request for discretion. "There are some people here 
in very lofty positions," he cautions. Normally, these gatherings are 
strictly off the record, although they did invite a Washington Times 
reporter back in 1983 on the condition "that he neither eat nor drink." 

Our waitress is the sole female presence at the meeting. 
"There is no prohibition on women per se," explains Buswell. He notes 
that the Cogswell Society holds an annual black-tie gala every January at 
which both sexes are welcome. "But most of our members and most women 
would feel uncomfortable with the sort of ribaldry that goes on here. Some 
of these affairs can get pretty raunchy. This one was tame by comparison." 

Just once did the Cogswellians bend this unwritten rule. A couple 
years back, the Pigeon was a woman who was introduced as the second 
secretary of the Soviet Embassy. Accompanied by KGB guards, she delivered 
a rambling tirade on all things American. "The members were furious!" 
recalls Buswell, until they found out that the whole thing was a 
hoax--their speaker was a New York actress who spoke fluent Russian. 
Despite the general atmosphere of hilarity, Ross Mark chalks this 
afternoon's affair up as "mediocre". 

"Sometimes these things catch fire, and sometimes they don't," he 
says, recalling one banquet where the guest of honor was a high-ranking 
White House official (whom he won't name). The speaker got wrapped up in 
his talk and became angry when the Cogswellians interrupted him with their 
comments and questions (which is perfectly acceptable as far as 
Cogswellian etiquette is concerned). "The members pelted him with napkins 
and rolls, and he walked out." "The worst thing you can do at these 
meetings is to take yourself too seriously." 

Fountain of Hooch
Like the Noble Experiment Itself, 
D.C.'s Monument to Prohibition Didn't Work 
(By Greg Kitsock, Washington City Paper, January 3, 1992

T'is the season to contemplate unwanted gifts: the recycled fruitcake, 
the plaid pants three sizes too big, and the Cogswell Monument at 7th 
Street and Indiana Avenue NW. The Victorian fountain, with its 
Greek-temple motif, still attests to the supremacy of water as a beverage. 
Standing across from the Archives Metro stop, the monument to temperance 
looks as if it were designed by a sufferer of delirium tremens. A spindly 
legged bronze crane does a balancing act on top of the cupola, as if to 
pass some avian sobriety test. On the sides are engraved the three 
cardinal virtues--faith, hope, and charity--to which a fourth has been 
added: temperance. Gamboling beneath the canopy are two strange scaly fish 
(with teeth!) which are described as dolphins in one guidebook but which 
bear scant resemblance to Flipper.

The fountain's donor was Dr. Henry Cogswell, a San Francisco dentist 
who made a mint by investing in real estate the money he made pulling 
'49ers' teeth during the Great Gold Rush. In the Temperance Fountain's 
heyday, ice water flowed from the dolphins' snouts. Thirsty passersby were 
encouraged to ladle up an alcohol-free mouthful with a brass cup attached 
to the fountain by a chain. A horse trough caught the overflow for thirsty 
nags. However, the city tired of replenishing the ice in a reservoir 
beneath the platform, and the pipes had long been disconnected when the 
Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation refurbished the monument in 1990. 

Although it's sometimes referred to as the Prohibition Memorial, 
Cogswell's fountain was actually chiseled out of granite and bronze at a 
Connecticut foundry in the early 1880s and formally accepted by a 
congressional resolution in 1882, when Prohibition was but a gleam in the 
eye of Frances Willard and the Women's Christian Temperance Union. The 
good doctor donated about 15 similar monuments to other cities, including 
Buffalo, Rochester, Boston, and San Francisco. He seems to have had a 
fetish about animals: Other fountains were adorned with frogs, pigeons, 
sea serpents, horses, and gargoyles. A few even sported a bronze statue of 
Cogswell himself, in whiskers and frock coat, with a water glass or 
temperance pledge in his outstretched hand.

Cogswell died in 1900, which is just as well, as he would have been 
sorely disillusioned by the reality of state-enforced Prohibition. 
Temperance crusaders of the 19th century conjured up images of an 
alcohol-less land where granaries bulged with the produce of sober 
workingmen, families lolled about the hearth, and jails and asylums lay 
vacant. But Washington of the '20s bore scant resemblance to this fantasy. 

Washington was eased rather gently into the so-called Noble 
Experiment. By congressional fiat, the Sheppard Act dried up the District 
at 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 1, 1917 (two years ahead of the rest of the 
country). Some 269 bars and retail outlets--as well as four 
breweries--lost their licenses. Halloween proved to be an unusually quiet 
night for the police, as the bars along D.C.'s Rum Row on F-Street NW were 
drunk dry by 10 p.m. 

Until Prohibition went into effect nationwide, Washingtonians could 
take the train to Baltimore to wet their whistles. Meanwhile, others 
practiced how to make booze from malt extract and dehydrated grapes mixed 
with baker's yeast, and by 1920 they were proficient. Smugglers' wares and 
corn squeezings from the Virginia hills supplemented the supply of home 
brew. No one in the city ever had to stoop to water. 

Tipplers guzzled bathtub gin and "cawn" liquor distilled in primitive 
alky cookers and often contaminated with methyl alcohol, formaldehyde, 
iodine, or fuel oils. According to the anonymous authors of 
Washington-Merry-Go-Round and its sequel More Merry-Go-Round, the 
Smithsonian had to post guards after some desperate soul was found 
draining the preservative from the specimen jars in its reptile exhibit. A 
busted still confiscated from a fashionable Adams Morgan home yielded 
several inches of petroleum sludge on the bottom.

Good stuff was still available for greenbacks. In a Bartender's Guide 
to Prohibition published by Collier's magazine, the author cited the 
following black-market prices: grain alcohol, $12 a gallon; Canadian Club, 
$80 a case; Johnny Walker, $90 a case; Hennessey cognac, $80 to $100 a 
case. Of course, the container was no guarantee of the quality. One shop 
on H Street made a handsome profit selling bottles and fake labels to 
bootleggers who filled them with cawn liquor colored with caramel.

By the end of the '20s, an estimated 3,500 speak-easies and free-lance 
bootleggers were flourishing in the District. Where could you get it? 
Where couldn't you-that would be a shorter list. The upper crust would 
hoist glasses at the Club Mayflower in the fifth floor of the Mayflower 
Hotel, with its 30-foot bar, gaming cables, and extensive cocktail menu. 
The well-connected could score a stiff snort on Embassy Row, where envoys 
took advantage of their privileges, importing booze in diplomatic pouches 
and banging it back on embassy grounds. Lowbrows would gather in the back 
room of a drug store, billiard parlor, gas station, or luncheonette where 
a few pine planks suspended over stacks of crates would serve as a 
makeshift bar.

Instead of emptying the jails, Prohibition made them bulge. In 1929, 
the year of peak enforcement, the cops made nearly 20,000 collars for 
violations of local and national Prohibition ordinances. Still, it was a 
losing battle: With only 35 of D.C.'s 1,400-man police empowered to 
enforce these statutes, rumrunners could operate with impunity from the 
slums of Southwest to the grounds of the Capitol.

Quite simply, obeying the law didn't pay. Many larger brewers retooled 
their plants to make near beer, only to discover they couldn't give it 
away because bootleg booze was so easy to get. In D.C., the old brewer 
Christian Heurich experimented with a nonalcoholic apple cider in his 
plant where the Kennedy Center stands today. But it fermented in the 
bottles and had to be dumped. Heurich would have nothing to do with 
bootlegging and spent the dry years manufacturing ice and tending to his 
Bellevue, Md., farm. As a result, a decent stein of lager became the one 
drink hardest to find here. As William Randolph Hearst editorialized,, the 
only thing changed by Prohibition was that "a man who wants a mild drink 
is compelled to take a strong one; and a man who wants a good drink is 
compelled to take a bad one." 

Dry leaders pressured President Hoover and the Congress to do 
something about the rumrunners. If Prohibition couldn't be enforced in the 
seat of our nation's government, how could it be enforced in Boston or 
Boca Raton or Peoria! But political support for temperance was still 
strong. As late as 1930, Rep. Morris Sheppard of Texas (author of the act 
that made D.C. dry) insisted that there was as much chance of the 18th 
Amendment being repealed as for "a hummingbird to fly to Mars with the 
Washington Monument tied to its tail." 

But they couldn't enforce a law that wasn't being obeyed al the top. 
The roster of Prohibition violators read like a Who's Who of '20s American 
politics. Speaker of the House Nicholas Longworth and his wife Alice 
Roosevelt Longworth made homemade beer and wine in the basement of their 
mansion. "Cactus Jack" Garner, Texas senator and later VP under FDR, liked 
to pull a flask from his desk for favored constituents and say ''Let's 
strike a blow for liberty, boys! 

Woodrow Wilson, forced into retirement by a stroke he suffered in the 
White House, maintained a small wine cellar in his home on S Street NW. 
Warren Harding, though he had voted for the 18th Amendment under pressure 
from the Anti-Saloon League, served highballs to his Poker Cabinet. 
Herbert Hoover found a perfectly legal dodge: While secretary of commerce 
under Harding, he would often drop by the Belgian Embassy at cocktail 
time, where the principle of diplomatic Immunity applied. 
Throughout the years of prohibition, until its repeal in 1933, 
Cogswell's fountain of temperance silently witnessed the innumerable deals 
between bootleggers and their customers. 

Washington tolerated Cogswell's gift, but other cities didn't. In his 
hometown of San Francisco, a lynch party of self-professed art lovers 
wrapped a rope around the neck of Cogswell's statue and toppled it to the 
ground. Vandals in Rockville, Conn. tossed another one of his fountains 
into a lake.

The D.C. fountain came close to the scrap heap when, in 1945, Sen. 
Sheridan Downey of California campaigned against it. "On my first day in 
Washington, I walked down Pennsylvania Avenue and was amazed to discover 
at 7th Street what was obviously a monstrosity of art," he said. 
"Examining it more closely, I was shocked to see the fair name of San 
Francisco emblazoned on it." A photo in the April 11, 1945, Washington 
Daily News depicts the peevish senator aside the fountain, where a tramp 
is sprawled out between the columns.

Downey subsequently introduced a resolution to replace the fountain 
with a group of figures depicting "the horror, brutality, and filth of 
war." His suggestion sparked an our pouring of apathy. D.C. officials said 
they didn't care what happened to the monument, and one letter writer to 
the Daily News beefed that a member of Congress ought to have more 
important things to worry about. Downey's resolution died in committee. 
The Temperance Fountain remains an excellent Washington conversation 
piece, too quaint to dispose of and too essential to skaterats who commute 
from the suburbs to careen off its sides. Like now-anachronistic statues 
of Lenin, it stands as a strangely perverse memorial to a failed social experiment. 


Cogswell Fountain, 1880, Main Street at East Avenue, Pawtucket, RI


Tompkins Square Park, NYC


Dr. Henry Daniel Cogswell, born in Tolland, Connecticut March 3, 1820, was a man of both vision and distinguished heritage. The Cogswell family was descended from Alfred the Great and Charlemagne and emigrated to America in 1635 from England. Dr. Cogswell cherished his family crest and motto, "Nec Sperno Nec Timeo," which means, "I neither despise nor fear." As his ancestors numbered among America's pioneers, so was Dr. Cogswell's own life one of pioneering and service. 

Henry D. Cogswell had a humble childhood. It was necessary for young Cogswell to go to work at an early age in the New England cotton mills. After a day's work in the mills, he spent the evening hours reading, writing, and learning arithmetic. Eventually he became a teacher, but after one year, he decided to enter the dental profession. Upon completion of his training at the age of 26, Dr. Cogswell began the practice of dentistry in Providence, Rhode Island. One year later, in 1846, he married Caroline E. Richards, daughter of Ruel Richards, a manufacturer in Providence. 

When gold was discovered in California, Dr. Cogswell followed the pioneering urge he inherited from his ancestors. He left for California by sea and after 152 days aboard the clipper ship "Susan G. Owens", landed in San Francisco on October 12, 1849. Rather than enter the rugged and uncertain business of mining, he practiced dentistry and established a mercantile business in the mining region. After several successful years of dental practice and real estate investments and buoyed by his ever-present strength of purpose, Dr. Cogswell became one of San Francisco's first millionaires. 

Dr. Cogswell was a pioneer in his profession as well. In 1847 he designed the vacuum method of securing dental plates. In 1853 he performed the first dental operation in California using chloroform.

On March 19, 1887, Dr. and Mrs. Cogswell executed a trust deed setting apart real property (valued at approximately one million dollars) to establish and endow Cogswell Polytechnical College. It was, as far as is known, the first school of its kind west of the Mississippi River. 

The purpose of the College as a nonprofit charitable trust is well expressed in the words of Dr. Cogswell in his presentation address to the first Board of Trustees, which he and Mrs. Cogswell had selected. It is remarkable that his reference to the immediate need for technical training is true now as it was at that time. He spoke, in part, as follows:"Educated working men and women are necessary to solve the great labor problems that will arise in the future. For the purpose of this education, there is room and need for technical schools in all quarters of our country. For the purpose, then, of providing boys and girls of the state a thorough training in mechanical arts and other industries, we have made the grant, as set forth in these papers, providing for the founding and maintaining of Cogswell College." 

The school was opened in August 1888 as a high school with well-equipped departments of technical education for boys and business education for girls. The school operated in this capacity until June 30, 1930, when its status was changed to that of a technical college offering a college-level two-year program. Cogswell College now offers a Bachelor of Science in Fire Administration, a Bachelor of Science in Fire Prevention Technology, a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, a Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering, and a Bachelor of Arts in Computer and Video Imaging, Digital Audio Technology and Digital Motion Picture. 

Cogswell College was singled out and originally written into the California State Constitution, along with the Huntington Library, Lick School (Lick-Wilmerding), the Mechanics Institute (Library), and Stanford University, as a tax-exempt institution. Cogswell College's contribution to the community justified this honor. That contribution marks Cogswell College as a continuing and vital institution in California as well as the nation. 


The Willimantic Chronicle - Year of 1882

Published every Wednesday.

McDonald & Safford, Editors and Publishers.
Office, Hall's Block, Main & Union Sts.
$1.50 per year.

M. Wallen, A.H. Freeman, O.G. Hanks. Prompter: O.M. Richardson.


TWC Wed Dec. 6, 1882: About Town:

The Cogswell drinking fountain project received its eternal quietus Monday.
As a gift it was growing to be a very expensive elephant for the borough
to accept.


 TWC Wed Dec. 6 1882: Borough Meeting. At
the borough meeting in Armory hall Monday about fifty were present. All
votes hitherto passed relating to the Cogswell drinking fountain were rescinded
without opposition. Mr. John C. Hooper was voted $12 per year for supplying
the watering trough at corner of Main street and Mansfield avenue. The matter
of obtaining two outlets of water from Mr. S.G. Adams works to supply
drinking water at the curbstone at places deemed desirable received no action.
The adjourned borough meeting to that date for the purpose of acting upon
a report presented by the committee on the borough charter revised substantially
accepted the changes as recommended by that committee.


TWC Wed Dec. 20, 1882: About Town.
The Linen company changed its time Tuesday morning from Boston to Connecticut
time, twelve minutes slower.
The Willimantic Farmers club will meet at the residence of N.P.
Perkins, Pleasant Valley, next Saturday evening.
Now that the Cogswell fountain has been disposed of, perhaps that donation
from Col. Barrows will soon take some definite shape.


Boston Common is a public park, containing about 48 acres, on the southwesterly slope of Beacon Hill. It is
beautifully diversified with knolls, avenues, parterres and fountains; and delightfully sheltered by great trees,
— English and American elms, lindens, several varieties of maple, English oak, cottonwood and other kinds.

Near the centre is an iron fence surrounding a thrifty young tree, on the spot where stood the Old Elm, so noted
from its size and for the tragic events which have occurred in its vicinity. In 1776, as many as thirty Indians,
concerned in massacres, were hung upon the branches of this and other trees around it. Here, in early days, Quakers
were hung for conscience' sake; and here, later, Whitefield preached to an audience, it is said, of 20,000. This
tree was destroyed in the great gale in 1876. Near by, on the north side, is the Frog Pond (without a frog), a
pretty little lake, and within it a fountain throwing a huge jet of water to a great height. Rising from the margin
of the pond is the central and highest elevation of the Common, on the summit of which stands a lofty column, of
white granite surmounted by the bronze figure of Liberty: its base surrounded by allegorical figures of stone in
half relief; while lower, on the four angles of the pedestal, are bronze statues of a soldier, a sailor, the muse
of history and the genius of peace. The monument is by Milman, and commemorates the sons of Boston, lost in the
war of the Rebellion. On the Park Street side of the Common is the noble fountain presented by Gardner Brewer.
About midway on the Tremont Street side are the Cogswell fountain, mostly of granite, and the interesting monument
to Liberty, erected in 1888. The design is by Robert Kraus. It is a round column, of granite on a pedestal of the
same material, on the front projection of which stands a beautiful bronze figure of Liberty, with an eagle just
alighting at her feet. It is popularly known as the Crispus Attucks monument, because his name stands first on
the list of those who fell in the Boston Massacre, in 1770, which this monument commemorates. In the southern part
of the Common is the Old Central Burying Ground, long unused, and now deeply shaded by a variety of thrifty trees.
In this cemetery were buried many British soldiers. In the early days of the Revolution the Common was the principal
camp ground of the British. The Charles Street side was then the western water front, and along its line were pits.
for the musketmen; while batteries occupied the eminences in the rear.


OVER THE TEACUPS by Oliver W. Holmes

BEVERLY FARM, Mass., August, 1891. O. W. H.

"Let us get out of reach of this," I said; and we left our planet,
with its blank, desolate moon staring at it, as if it had turned pale
at the sights and sounds it had to witness.

Presently the gilded dome of the State House, which marked our
starting-point, came into view for the second time, and I knew that
this side-show was over. I bade farewell to the Common with its
Cogswell fountain, and the Garden with its last awe-inspiring monument. 

"Oh, if I could sometimes revisit these beloved scenes! "I exclaimed. "There is nothing to hinder that I know of," said my companion. "Memory and imagination as you know them in the flesh are two winged creatures with strings tied to their legs, and anchored to a bodily weight of a hundred and fifty pounds, more or less. When the string is cut you can be where you wish to be,--not merely a part of you, leaving the rest behind, but the whole of you. Why shouldn't you want to revisit your old home sometimes?"



This manuscript includes a 12-page typewritten biography of Dr. Henry D. Cogswell written by Everett E. Farwell and a typewritten covering letter from Farwell to California Historical Society dated May 18, 1959 at the time Farwell donated the biography and two photographs (of Dr. Cogswell and of the Cogswell fountain) to CHS.

Farwell writes from 1718 Santa Clara Avenue in Alameda, California on May 18, 1959. He says he has been working towards publication of a biography of Dr. Henry D. Cogswell. Now, however, he is confined to a wheelchair and unable to proceed with his work. He is donating his research to California Historical Society with the hopes that they might publish Cogswell's biography in their quarterly and that he might edit it. He also is including a photograph of Dr. Cogswell and one of the Cogswell fountain on Market Street in San Francisco. Farwell says that the last time he saw the monument in the Lincoln Park Golf Course erected by Dr. Cogswell it was in a bad state of repair.

Farwell's biography of Dr. Henry Daniel Cogswell begins with birth on March 3, 1819 in Tolland, Connecticut. He was the second of five children born to an architect/builder/carpenter who moved most of his family to Orwell, NY in 1828 in search of better opportunities, leaving young Henry with his paternal grandfather. Soon after Henry's 10th birthday, his grandfather died and the boy was left completely on his own. He managed to survive by finding a series of short-term jobs in exchange for room and board and minimal pay, primarily in factories throughout Connecticut in South Coventry, Willington, Coventry, Mansfield, Canterbury, Uncasville, Willimantic, and Eagleville. Cogswell struggled to educate himself along the way while working full time. He walked to Pawtucket, RI to seek work at a cotton mill, and in 1835, at age 16, apprenticed himself to a RI jeweler who went out of business in 18 months. By this time, Cogswell had managed to educate himself to such a degree that he passed an exam which qualified him to become a school principal in Sandy Creek, NY with 7 female teachers and 100 students under his jurisdiction.

Cogswell was determined to study medicine, and worked in a hospital in Watertown, NY and with a doctor in Sandy Creek. Next, he returned to RI and studied with a Providence dentist for two and a half years before he opened his own dental office in Pawtucket. By 1847, when he was 28, Dr. Cogswell had applied for a patent for his invention of a vacuum chamber for securing plates for artificial teeth.
Dr. Cogswell's career was interrupted by the California Gold Rush, which lured him west in 1849. He opened stores in Stockton and Curtis Creek, then eventually settled in San Francisco where he opened a dental office and began a business in dental, medical and surgical instruments. Dr. Cogswell invested his profits in real estate, and by 1855 had amassed a fortune of at least $2 million. He spent the remainder of his life managing his assets and traveling the world.

Cogswell and his wife set out in 1870 on a 4-year round-the-world trip, a means of augmenting the rudimentary education which Dr. C. had had. The trip aroused in him philanthropy towards those who had difficult early lives as well as strong feelings about intemperance. Dr. Cogswell invented a patented public drinking fountain which could be cooled in hot weather by a single piece of ice, and built these of granite and bronze in 16 U. S. cities, including one on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC in 1882. In 1865, he donated a building and land to the University of California for a dental school, but this was returned to Dr. Cogswell nine years later after the university was unable to develop it because of a lack of funds.

In San Francisco, Dr. Cogswell built and endowed the Cogswell Polytechnic College, formally opened in 1887 for manual, industrial and technical training of 600 students. He provided a generous endowment and financial help to needy students, remembering his own roots of poverty, and with his wife served for years on the board of trustees. He purchased a cemetery plot for unknown dead in the City Cemetery through the Sailors' Home Society . Dr. Cogswell also designed a family mausoleum in the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, with statues of Faith, Hope, Charity and Temperance at the four corners and his motto engraved thereon: "I honor meritorious deeds of philanthropy, heroism and fidelity. I encourage temperance, art, science and mechanics."
Dr. Cogswell married Caroline E. Richards of Providence, RI in 1887. Mrs. Cogswell shared in her husband's lifelong activities.

An article from California: The Empire Beautiful, subtitled Pioneers - Sons and Daughters, by Mrs. J. J. Owen, published in San Francisco in 1899, gives a brief biography of Dr. Cogswell. Dr. Cogswell was descended from early American pioneers, and could trace his lineage back to Lord Humphrey Cogswell in 1447 whose coat of arms and motto ("I neither despise nor fear") he adopted. He first arrived in California on the ship Susan G. Owens in 1849. He and his wife traveled extensively through Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. A caption beneath a photograph of Cogswell Polytechnic College in San Francisco states that the college was open to both male and female students and was generously endowed by Cogswell himself.

Dr. Cogswell's fountains were erected in Washington, DC; Pawtucket, RI; Fall River, MA; San Jose, CA; and San Francisco, CA. The Washington fountain was accepted by joint Congressional action in 1882, but deemed so undesirable that it was relegated to a remote location. 

A Cogswell fountain in San Francisco was built at the corners of Market, Battery and Bush Streets, bearing a likeness of Dr. Cogswell himself, dressed in a frock coat and offering a glass of water in an outstretched hand. San Francisco's wine drinkers strongly objected to the Cogswell fountain and its temperance message. They lassoed the neck of the good doctor on the fountain one night and pulled it to the ground where it broke into many pieces. The local newspapers applauded the action, and the crime was never prosecuted. The Donohue monument later replaced the Cogswell fountain.

Another Cogswell fountain was erected in front of the Cogswell School (Polytechnic College), with a similar likeness on it of Dr. Cogswell complete with top hat. Passersby often would stick a whiskey bottle into the bend of his arm! This fountain and statue were destroyed by the 1906 earthquake.

According to Farwell, two statues erected by Dr. Cogswell still stand in San Francisco -- one on the Lincoln Park Golf Course, dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Lambert, founder of the Ladies' Seaman's Friend Society, and the other in Washington Square in North Beach, bearing a likeness of Benjamin Franklin with water faucets on three sides beneath the names of three kinds of mineral water: Vichy, Congress and California Seltzer. Farwell reports that Albert De Rome, then living in Pacific Grove, CA, once was associated with the Congress Springs Mineral Water Company near Saratoga. He recalls Dr. Cogswell's plan to bury tanks of mineral water beneath his Washington Square statue so residents of San Francisco could benefit from the water free of charge through the faucets. An inscription by Dr. Cogswell on the monument indicates that there is a P. O. box filled with mementos for the Historical Society to open in 1979.

Farwell states his belief that Dr. Cogswell was the first dentist to use chloroform as a dental anesthetic in California. The first patient, who had three teeth extracted on February 18, 1853, was Mrs. S. Martin. Dr. Cogswell is buried in the family plot, about 100 feet square with a central obelisk, in Mountain View Cemetery in Piedmont, CA. He died on July 8, 1900 at 80. Mrs. Cogswell died on February 6, 1902 at 79.

Another biographical sketch of Dr. Cogswell's life gives his birth date as March 3, 1920. He was the son of George Washington Cogswell and Polly (Dimmick) Cogswell. He married Caroline E. Richards on December 7, 1846. She was the daughter of Reuel and Laura (Paine) Richards of Providence, RI. The Cogswells lived at 319 Broadway in San Francisco. They had no children.

Cogswell's mother died when he was eight. He left for California on May 9, 1849, laden with a good supply of merchandise, which he quickly parlayed into a business. His wife joined him in California in 1851. In addition to his gift of a dental school to the University of California, Dr. Cogswell endowed the Cogswell Chair of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy at the State University and The Cogswell Relief Fund for needy students.

Thirty-one of Dr. Cogswell's public drinking fountains were erected in cites around the U. S., including Brooklyn, NY and Providence, RI. The Washington, DC fountain was approved by Congress on July 6, 1882 and erected at Pennsylvania Avenue and Seventh Street in 1884. An inscription indicated that it was given in perpetuity to the American Union.

The Cogswell mausoleum in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, CA was made from 400 tons of cut granite. The obelisk is 60 feet tall.

Four colossal Italian marble sculptures of Faith, Hope, Charity and Temperance mark the corners. The 10,000 square feet of the plot are enclosed by polished granite. The mausoleum cost $60,000.

A description of the demise of the Cogswell fountain on Market Street claims that the deed was done by a self-appointed committee of artists whose sensibilities were outraged by the lack of artistic value of the statue of Cogswell which appeared thereon. Subsequent newspaper articles seemed to indicate that the artists who pulled down the Cogswell statue had done San Francisco art circles a great service. An elderly member of the Bohemian Club claims that some club members had joined in demolishing the statue.

A copy of the joint Congressional resolution, accepting the gift from Dr. Cogswell of an ornamental public drinking fountain, is dated July 6, 1882. The resolution makes plain that the fountain will be erected entirely at Dr. Cogswell's expense. The Commissioners of the District of Columbia were charged with deciding where the fountain should be located, with providing lanterns to light it at night, and with supplying refrigerating materials when needed to keep the water cool.

An excerpt from California's Medical Story by Henry Harris, published by Grabhorn Press in 1932, claims that Cogswell's offer (first to the state association, then to the University of California) of an endowment for the first California dental school was accepted in 1879 but never used because it was complicated by so many strings.

An excerpt from The Barbary Coast by Herbert Asbury, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1933, reports the common practice of wealthy men having their healthy teeth replaced by gold ones. Dr. Cogswell is identified as a leading San Francisco dentist who amassed a fortune and became an avid prohibitionist. His aim was to erect one public drinking fountain -- each with a statue of himself adorning it -- for every 100 saloons. Seven were erected in San Francisco, but none survived more than a few years.


Stoned again

April 26, 2003

Washington, DC is the place to see for fans of monuments and memorials writes Claire Miller.

Here, everything is celebrated, from the Lobstermen of Maine to the Boy Scouts of America, the Nuns of the Battlefield to the singer Sonny Bono. On the lawns of the Mall, the broad avenues, the parks and the pavements, is laid out a feast of great deeds, local heroes and lost causes.

Like the Temperance fountain across the road from General Hancock. This modest affair was presented to the city by a Dr Henry Cogswell of San Francisco, California. Who was Dr Cogswell, I wondered, and what would he think of modern America, where beer can be bought at the 7-Eleven? Still, he left the city a nice monument: a crane standing over two intertwined fish, the symbolism of which presumably means something other than drinking like one.


City of Kooks?
Notable San Francisco Eccentrics

Among the most cherished of San Francisco institutions are its weirdoes -- er -- eccentrics. They include people who yell at the tourists at trolley stops, coffee house philosophers with unique views, millionaires who want to leave some large folly in their memory, and many others. Some are artists, some are financiers with an eye for the odd, and others are just independent, creative types. These people have defied convention in some remarkable way and by their antics, caused us to remember and cherish them.

Dr. Henry Cogswell   (webmaster's note: 1 of 27 that were featured in this article!)

Dr. Henry Cogswell believed that it was his duty to spread the good news of modern dentistry to a caries-ridden populace. His mode of carrying out this worthy missionary activity is what puts his name among the great eccentrics. Cogswell not only thought dentistry was a good thing, but he also evidentally believed that he was the embodiment of all that was good about dentistry because he gave to the city several statues of himself offering a glass of ever-flowing water to thirsty citizens. "Purple Cow" author and humorist Gelette Burgess lost his job as a drafting instructor at UC Berkeley because he made some unmentionable alteration to one of these monuments to dental hubris.




There are four parks in the city proper. Krug Park, the largest and most beautiful, is beyond the city limits, though under municipal jurisdiction. All of these parks were donated. Smith Park was the gift of the late Frederick W. SMITH ; Patee Park was the gift of the late John PATEE ; Mitchell Park, the gift of A. M. MITCHELL, and Washington Park , the gift of those who placed St. Joseph Extension Addition on the market .

These were all dedicated when the additions containing them were platted. Krug Park, containing 10 acres, was the gift of Henry and William KRUG, made in February of 1889.

Smith and Patee parks were rough ground in the beginning, but the grader made all things even . Up to 1870 Smith Park was occupied by a florist. When the Smith Branch Sewer, which cut through the northeastern portion of the park was completed, the place was graded and filled. In 1882 an iron fence was built, In 1884, Dr. Henry COGSWELL, of San Francisco, a noted advocate of temperance, presented the city with his statue, to be placed in the park, DR. Cogswell was engaged in perpetuating himself by the means of these statues, which were mounted upon drinking fountains. Samuel WESTHEIMER, who was then a member of the council, and who had been instrumental in having Smith Park opened for public use, heard of Dr. Cogswell. Mr. Westheimer was of the opinion that any kind of a statue would look better than no statue, and if one could be had without cost, the effort should be made. He therefore induced the Council to request Dr. Cogswell for his effigy in metal. The Doctor was a little slow, but finally yielded -- conditionally, however. The conditions were the city should purchase four lamps and should agree to keep the fountains running during the drinking season, and that one fountain should give forth ice water, These conditions were agreed to and the statue arrived. The city built a substantial base, under which provision was made for cooling the water. This feature of the bargain, however, has long been neglected.

Much sport was made of the statue at the time of its arrival and some wag circulated the report that it was an advertisement for " vinegar bitters ". Dr. Cogswell, though vain, was a well - meaning man, and did everything in his powers to promote and encourage temperance, even to being a candidate for the presidency in the interest of prohibition.


Who made a vow to erect one statue with a water fountain for every 100 saloons in San Francisco? "Henry Cogswell, who made his money installing gold crowns on teeth of miners who wanted to show off their Gold Rush fortunes"



Rockville Reminder story 11/1/05

Cogswell Fountain History

Cogswell Family Association --