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November 4, 2005

Outdoor Petersen sculpture is ready to be a pool again

by Diana Pounds

Next spring, they'll put water in the "Marriage Ring" fountain outside MacKay Hall and it won't seep out. Recent repairs put the popular Christian Petersen fountain back in business after several years of leaky operation. "The fountain wouldn't hold water for more than a day or two," said Lynette Pohlman, director of University Museums.

Marriage Ring fountain

Gifts from the Class of 1951 and alumnus Lucius Legg helped pay for renovations to the outdoor version of Christian Petersen's "Marriage Ring." Photo by Bob Elbert.

The repairs also brought the fountain into compliance with state regulations on water discharge.

A gift from the Class of 1951, with special support from alumnus Lucius D. Legg in memory of his wife Jacquelyn, helped fund the $130,000 repair project. Workers rebuilt the concrete fountain basin, installed a new circulation pump and filters, and repaired the fountain statues.

The "Marriage Ring" sculpture outside MacKay Hall is a reproduction of Petersen's original fountain, created in 1941. Pohlman said the original was moved into the MacKay Hall vestibule in the early '90s to protect it from weather deterioration and vandalism.

Coincidentally, vandalism played a role in the creation of the "Marriage Ring."

An elegant apology

The Veishea Central Committee was appalled by vandalism to another Petersen sculpture -- the "Fountain of the Four Seasons" -- when it was unveiled during the spring celebration in 1941. Vandals had painted the faces of the fountain's Indian Maidens red. As an apology, the Veishea committee commissioned Petersen to do another sculpture. The "Marriage Ring" was the result. It was completed in 1942.

Petersen's new work was to grace what was then the College of Home Economics. The fountain, with its three playful children, symbolizes the "jewels" of a wedding ring and signifies the importance of children to the family, Pohlman said.

The "Marriage Ring" also has been called the "Wedding Ring" and the "Ring of Life."


A gift from the Class of '51 helped spur repairs on Christian Petersen's Marriage Ring" fountain, outside of MacKay Hall.