Fountain will get a new lease on youth at Look Park

  • Steve Knapp, who works for Keiter Builders, excavates an area during the renovation of the Frank Newhall Look Memorial Park fountain, Monday. The project is expected to be completed by the spring. GAZETTE PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

For The Recorder
Friday, September 22, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — An iconic fountain that has greeted visitors to Look Park since it opened 87 years ago is getting a new look this fall, a long-desired renovation and rebuild of the deteriorating structure.

“This fountain has been an icon for everyone driving down Route 9 for a long time, so it’s important that it be kept up,” Shawn Porter, the park’s executive director, said.

Porter, who has directed Look Park since 2013, said the idea of renovating Memorial Founation has come up at every board of trustees meeting he’s ever attended, but hefty estimates for the work kept it on hold.

“It was definitely falling apart. The walls were starting to crack, and the old fountain rained water all over the brick wall of the fountain, causing further damage to the structure. It’s actually in the deed of trust that the park needs to have a nice entrance — which is where the fountain is — but it was just not possible with estimates over $600,000,” Porter said.

Then Berkshire Design Group Inc. and Keiter Builders, both of Northampton, stepped in this year with a proposal to design and build a cheaper — at about $350,000 — safer and more environmentally friendly fountain.

“It was important to us to involve companies that have great reputations for working in the community,” Porter said. “At the same time, Berkshire Design Group and Keiter understood and appreciated that we are nonprofit and independently run. So, they worked hard to find areas of the project where we could cut costs. It’s definitely something that is vital to the park. It’s still a little more than we wanted to spend, but we knew it had to be done and we took on the challenge.”

The work involves constructing a new fountain and pool and making major renovations to the existing structure. The fountain was designed by the Berkshire Design Group Inc. and is being built by Keiter Builders, both of Northampton.

The park, including the fountain, was opened to the public in 1930 as a memorial to Frank Newhall Look, a CEO who led the Florence-based health care and toothbrush business Prophylactic Brush Co. during the early 20th century.