Latham Fountain (by mk30)

The Latham Square Fountain is located at the intersection of Telegraph and Broadway in front of the Cathedral Building. It was erected in 1913 as a memorial for James H. Latham and Henrietta Marshall Latham by their children and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

The inscription reads:

“Erected to the memory of James H. Latham and Henrietta Marshall Latham as a tribute to their humanity
Presented to the city of which they were earliest residents by their children under the auspices of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Erected March 1913”.

Created by French sculptor Raphael Charles Peyre, it depicts several scenes, including a cherub restraining a man from beating a donkey. The large bowls surrounding the base were intended as horse water troughs. Between the troughs were drinking fountains for people, and the overflow from those ran into smaller basins for dogs.

Mayor Frank Mott spoke at the unveiling, as did T. C. Judkins of the SPCA. Despite a driving rain, a crowd was on hand, and a band under the direction of Paul Steindorff. 1

From 1899–1912 there had been a 150-foot flagpole on the spot. It was removed to place the fountain. 2

Present Day

SF Call April 13, 1913 1 On October 16, 1984, the Latham Square Fountain was designated an Oakland Landmark, under Zoning Case #LM 84-266.

In February 2012, thieves stole two of the statue’s four 200-lb. bronze sculpted ornaments. See below for a ‘before’ photo. (KTVU’s new site no longer contains this info so, being short, it’s quoted below in full:)

Thursday, March 1, 2012—Thieves steal pieces of 99-year-old historic fountain in downtown Oakland

OAKLAND, Calif.—For 99 years, Downtown Oakland’s Latham Fountain, located on Broadway near Telegraph Avenue, stood undisturbed. But last month, two of the historic structure’s four sculpted bronze ornaments were stolen and the bolts that secured them removed. The Latham Fountain, listed in the national register of historic places, “[is] irreplaceable,” said Brooke Levin, Oakland public works assistant director. “So it’s very upsetting.”

Since the thefts, the other two similar-looking bronze pieces are under lock and key inside a city storage room. City officials believe the stolen pieces, which each weigh about 200 lbs., were targeted by metal thieves. “We are hoping the public will help us recover these items,” Levin said. “We have reached out to the recycling companies.” Steve Smith, an architectural recycler, told KTVU that strict laws prohibit scrap-metal dealers from accepting pieces like these. But he said some recyclers are unscrupulous and the price of metal is currently high, driven by demand overseas. “It’s all going to India, China and Taiwan … to get ground up into their machinery to make products to sell to us, basically,” Smith said.

Don Theard, an Oakland historian, said the Latham Fountain was made in Paris and carried by boat to Oakland in 1913. “Every once in a while I would notice a different feature I never noticed before,” Theard said. The city said if the pieces are not returned, it will try to raise the money to replicate them. The city said it’s still trying to figure out how to re-install the bronze pieces more securely.

As of January, 2014, there is a temporary art display in the nearby Rotunda Building about the Lathams and the fountain. On Saturday, January 25, 2014, there was a talk at the main Oakland library, Latham Memorial Fountain Unveiled: a Conversation About Art and History featuring artist Kari Marboe, BLOCK Gallery owner Lacey Haslam, and historian Annalee Allen.

June, 2011 photo by Andrew AldenCC SA-BY Our OaklandCC SA-BY Our OaklandCC SA-BY Our Oakland

Links and References

  1. Fount for Dumb Beasts Dedicated San Francisco Call April 13, 1913
  2. Oakland Mast is Razed San Francisco Call November 29, 1912