VININGS — The fountain at the intersection of Paces Mill and Paces Ferry roads was “the centerpiece of the community,” said Tom Ham, president-elect of the Vinings Historical Preservation Society. “Everybody went around it every single day.”
“Especially in bad weather, in the snow, in the ice, that fountain is beautiful,” said Lois Sifen, a longtime resident of the city. “It was the heart of Vinings.”
It was no surprise, then, that people quickly hatched a plan to save the fountain after county officials said it would have to go to make way for congestion-reducing road improvements.
Thursday evening, they celebrated the fruits of that effort. The Preservation Society and the Vinings Village Civic Club, the fountain’s longtime caretaker, unveiled the redesigned fountain, which found a new home at the Society’s Pace House, just down the road from its original location.
“We’ve always cared about that fountain,” said Peggy Gallagher, a local who came to the celebration. “It just made it a home-y little neighborhood place. And progress happens, you know, you got to move it. But this is a really nice compromise, I think.”
Traffic had become so bad at the intersection that the Cobb Department of Transportation began work this summer to — among other things — prohibit a left turn where the fountain used to be, said Jennifer Hollingsworth, the president of the Civic Club, which also celebrated its 100th birthday Thursday.
Many at the celebration were united in their love of the fountain, relief that it had found a home and insistence that whatever work the DOT had done had been done in vain.
“It really didn’t help,” Sifen said. “The fountain could have stayed there. The traffic is still bad.”
Ham said he was still unclear why the county uprooted it.
“You look at what they ended up doing, they didn’t do anything. They took it out but they didn’t make anything any better. They didn’t widen anything,” he said.
And yet there was a bit of historical serendipity in the move. The relocation was, after all, a reunion of sorts.
The fountain was originally dedicated to Earle Carter Smith, a great-great-granddaughter of Hardy Pace, one of the area’s first white settlers. Her sister, Ruth Carter Vanneman, owned the Pace House and founded the Preservation Society before her death in 1992.
When the fountain was removed from the intersection, it caused a minor panic among Vinings residents who didn’t know what had happened to it, Hollingsworth said. The Civic Club considered making it a bird sanctuary but changed course after Ham suggested they put it beside the Pace House.
“This is perfect, that it’s still here and it’s actually working, because we thought we were just going to have to stick it somewhere without the water going through it,” Sifen said. “People make fun of it because it’s so little, but we love it.”