Members of the Coliseum Square Association are planning a fundraising push to better service the parks and fountains throughout the Lower Garden District.
The organization was one of four chosen in February as a 2016 Freeman Challenge winner by The Greater New Orleans Foundation. Should the Coliseum Square Association raise $50,000 by December, the foundation will provide $25,000 in matching funds.
According to Julie Simpson, the board’s chair, the money from that fundraising effort will go to improving several parks and fountains scattered throughout the neighborhood.
In 2007, the Coliseum Square Association restored and put back into operation the neighborhood’s largest fountain, the Coliseum Square fountain. Now, the organization is attempting to do the same for Lafon Fountain, which the association has been working for several years to restore.
“The sculptural form and half-moon reflecting pool of the Lafon Fountain in Coliseum Square Park made it an iconic addition to the beautiful fountains found throughout the Lower Garden District,” the association wrote in a handout explaining the fundraising push. “For 20 years, it has sat abandoned to graffiti and overgrowth.”
The informational handout, which includes language encouraging new members to join, gives a brief history of the fountain, which was introduced in 1970, but permanently turned off in 1996 after falling victim to municipal budget cuts.
As part of the fundraising effort, the association will host an event called the “Live Oak Supper Club” on June 9 at St. Felicity church. To be held from 9-11 p.m., the $80 tickets will buy cuisine prepared by Gracie Evans Gan, former sous chef of Herbsaint, members announced Monday night.
The association also voted Monday to transfer $18,000 in funds from an existing account to an account for the endowment grant established by the foundation. The money came from what was originally established as the George Martin Fountain Fund, designed to help restore and maintain the Coliseum Fountain.
Association members said there were still enough funds immediately available to cover several years of maintenance for the Coliseum Fountain, a cost that averages a little more than $1,500 per year.
Association members also agreed to rebrand the neighborhood organization with the logo, “Coliseum Square Association: The Voice of the Lower Garden District.” The organization also decided to rename the grant fund the “Lower Garden District Parks and Fountains Fund.”
“In an effort we are all making this year to make the whole of our district involved, we are projecting the image of more inclusivity,” Simpson said. “Even though the working name of the endowment is Coliseum Square, we are very much in favor of Lower Garden District Parks and Fountains Fund.”
The Lower Garden District, laid out in 1806-07 by Barthelemy Lafon, was originally designed as a system of connecting parks with basins, fountains and canals. Architect Samuel Wilson, Jr. called it “one of the earliest expressions of the Greek Revival to appear in New Orleans,” according to The Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans.