A scenic Sequim spot along the old highway that was shuttered for about two decades has sprung back to life.
The waterfall fountain and pond at Pioneer Memorial Park was constructed back in the fall of 1965 and added a feature to the downtown park through the 1990s.
At some point that decade, however, leaks and other malfunctions forced it to shut down and it was filled in with cement, Sequim Prairie Garden Club member/historian Priscilla Hudson said.
The City of Sequim began its rehabilitation in 2017 and revived the waterfall and pond late last year, adding rockery and plantings.
The city and garden club members are hosting a ribbon-cutting celebration for the waterfall on May 16. Following the ceremony, visitors can see historic photographs of the construction of the original fountain while enjoying refreshments at the park clubhouse.
David Garlington, City of Sequim Public Works Director, spearheaded the resurrection project last year.
“David approached me one day, saying he’d like to get this fountain going,” Public Works Operations Manager Ty Brown said. “I was like, ‘What fountain?’ It was so overgrown.
“It’s good thing (we did) — it sure looks beautiful.”
Originally, the waterfall was a community project, Hudson explained, when in the mid-1960s community members conceived the idea to place the piece along US Highway 101, one that once ran through downtown Sequim before the 101 bypass was constructed in 1999. The project got its first major donor from Henry Lotzgesell, who donated about $600 in honor of the passing of his wife Hazel on Sept. 29, 1965.
For his contribution, Lotzgesell did the honors of the first shovel full at the project’s groundbreaking on Oct. 24 of that year.
“While this fountain is the project of many past and future contributors, Mr. Lotzgesell, his family and friends requested they be permitted to meet the present cost as a memorial to Hazel Lotzgesell so that the entire community might enjoy it now instead of having to wait,” garden club president Mrs. Lester McFarland told the Port Angeles Evening News on an article dated Oct. 27, 1965.
Initially the waterfall was about 5 feet high, 15 feet wide and featured two waterfalls; the restored version is a bit smaller and features one waterfall, Singer said.
Designed by landscape artist Lesly W. Howard, son of garden club member Laura Dubuque, the waterfall project saw garden club members and others from the Sequim community perform much of the labor to get it up and running.
According to annual Sequim Prairie Garden Club notes from 1966, club members laid electric and water lines, hauled rock and dirt and cooked meals for other crew members.
Howard, who donated time, labor and equipment for the effort, had his landscaping crew complete the work by November of 1965.
Several members of the Lotzgesell family have helped maintain the fountain and added decor over the years, Singer said, but consistent maintenance issues forced its closure in the early 1990s.
In 2006, Gloria Lotzgesell funded a commemorative bench near the defunct waterfall for Henry and Hazel Lotzgesell, her parents.
Reviving the fountain
In 2014, a garden club project began in effort to open up the views of the park’s lands adjacent to East Washington Street, giving passers-by a better view of the grounds. Club members cleared out years of overgrowth, replacing it with various trees and shrubs.
Then, in 2017, the City of Sequim began the literal heavy lifting of the revival project. Brown put together a team of city staff and — after consultation with the Lotzgesell family about some of the specifics of what the new waterfall/pond would look like — used a mini excavator to dig out the old concrete, repaired and reconfigured some of the water system, installed a liner and added rocks.
The new fountain has a smaller footprint, Brown said. He said staff designed it to be safe, with a shallow grade and depth of only about 3 feet. The water feature is deep enough to hold its water through stretches of dry or windy spells, and also has an overflow spillway built, he said.
City staff looked to resolve any issues the previous one did, getting advice from other landscapers around town, Brown said.
Brown also said that the fountain may see some other enhancements in the future.
“We do have plans to put in some lighting behind the waterfall … (a) color light to make it kind of pop,” he said.
On Nov. 16 of last year, the city celebrated Sequim’s designation as “Tree City USA” (Arbor Day Foundation) by planting trees and shrubs around the restored waterfall.