Thanks to vandalism, decay, and high operating costs, the James Scott Memorial Fountain on Belle Isle has seen little use over the last few years. That should change this summer, reports Channel 7. The DNR has promised the fountain will be gurgling gloriously throughout the summer, beginning with the Belle Isle Grand Prix in May. According to Crain's, the DNR plans to keep it running during the weekends, though hours could be expanded based on funding.
The Scott Fountain is simply something you must see to believe. Actually, you almost have to explore the thing—it's a mountain of marble spanning 510 feet across. The best thing about the fountain, however, is the very person it memorializes: James Scott, the most beloved asshole in Detroit history.
If you had to compare him with a modern celebrity, James Scott was like an early cross between Donald Trump and Charlie Sheen. He was a hot-tempered real estate speculator known for gleefully intimidating his competitors into submission. Most of the time, however, Scott was a "social parasite" who spent much of his time gambling, drinking, and hanging out with a multitude of "shady" ladies. He was also fond of practical jokes and bagpipes. He was widely disliked.
But here's what makes Scott wonderful: When he died in 1910, Scott left his vast fortune to the City of Detroit with instructions to build a public fountain. The catch, however, was that it had to include a life-size statue of Scott himself. The city eventually agreed to do so. Architect Cass Gilbert (designer of the Detroit Public Library) was hired to create the $500K fountain on Belle Isle's southern tip. It opened in 1925.
· Previous Fountain Posts [Curbed]
· James Scott Memorial Fountain [Historic Detroit]
· More on James Scott, "Detroit's Boss Romancer." [Night Train to Detroit]
· Belle Isle: Historic Scott Fountain to flow again! [ABC]