Erskine Fountain at Grant Park.

The Grant Park Conservancy has been awarded a $100,000 Park Pride Legacy Grant to support the restoration of its historic monuments: the 1896 Erskine Fountain, the Lion Bridge, and repairs to the Milledge Fountain.

As Atlanta’s oldest park, established in 1883, the landmarks inside the park have survived but are in need of restoration, according to Michelle Blackmon, executive director of the Conservancy.

The Lion Bridge – known by its four, distinctive lion head carvings and ornate stonework – is one of the oldest surviving features of the park. It initially served as a carriage entrance to the park, winding past Lake Abana and linking Cherokee Avenue to the pathways within the park. While Zoo Atlanta is now on the site of Lake Abana, the Lion Bridge leans precariously on top of a crumbling foundation and is in urgent need of stabilization and repair.

The Erskine Fountain is a memorial to Judge John Erskine, a gift to the city in 1896 by his daughter, Ruby Ward. It was originally located at the intersection of Peachtree and West Peachtree streets. In 1912, the fountain was moved to Grant Park, to serve as a grand welcome to the former Lake Abana Overlook. Today, the Erskine Fountain is corroded and inoperable, as well as missing several decorative elements.

The grant will also allow the Conservancy to continue restoration work on the main wall of the 1927 Milledge Fountain. The Conservancy completed significant restoration of the fountain in 2017, making it flow again after 60 years.

“We are so appreciative of Park Pride for supporting our organization and recognizing the importance of restoring these historic landmarks for our community and the entire city,” said Michelle Blackmon, executive director of the Grant Park Conservancy.

Lion Bridge at Grant Park.

The full cost of the Historic Preservation Project is $230,000. Park’s Pride Legacy Grants are matching funds, meaning the Grant Park Conservancy will raise the remaining $130,000 from the community and supporters.

“We’re inspired by the commitment of the Grant Park Conservancy to restore this historic park,” explained Allison Barnett, Park Pride’s Associate Director. “We look forward to enjoying the enhancements with the community once these projects are complete.”

For several years, community members organized as “The Friends of Erskine” have taken on the Erskine Fountain as a passion project, dedicating many volunteer hours to cleaning the site and raising funds for its restoration.

“The Erskine Fountain is a 123-year-old neighborhood gem that needs our attention. We are thrilled about the Park Pride grant and excited to work with the Conservancy to restore and preserve the fountain for the enjoyment of all of Atlanta’s citizens and visitors,” said Maureen Carroll, committee chair of the Friends of Erskine.

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Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.