How the fountain came to Ashland

by Peter Finkle

Biggest bash in Ashland history!


From what I know of Ashland history, I think 4th of July 1916 was the largest and most audacious celebration in the history of our town.

These days, many of us love to watch – or be in – one large, fun parade on the morning of July 4th. In 1916, there were three days of large, fun parades – July 4, July 5 and July 6! Three nights of fireworks! How about three afternoons of rollicking rodeos, with crowds of 7,000 to 13,000. Today, Ashland City Band plays in Lithia Park after the parade. In 1916, four city bands played in Lithia Park all three days! 1916 also had three days of swimming during the day and dancing at night until the early morning hours. Now that was a big party.

Many thanks to Gwin Butler and Domingo Perozzi

A highlight of July 4, 1916 was the unveiling of the Butler-Perozzi Fountain. Generous Ashland businessmen Gwin Butler and Domingo Perozzi had recently donated some of their land for the expansion of Lithia Park. Butler traveled to the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, held in San Francisco’s Marina District. The Exposition celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal and San Francisco rebuilding after the 1906 earthquake. It was attended by over 18 million people.


Butler thought a marble fountain he saw in the Italian Pavilion at the Exposition would be perfect in Lithia Park. He sent a telegram to his friend Perozzi, who had been born in Switzerland and spoke Italian, to come immediately. When Perozzi arrived in San Francisco, he agreed to help purchase the fountain, which the two men bought for $3,000 (equivalent to about $89,000 today).

After the Exposition ended, the 12,000 pound fountain was taken apart, crated, and sent by train from San Francisco to Ashland. The Ashland Tidings of 1916 reported that the crates were “now at the local freight depot awaiting the arrival of an expert who will install it.” A few days later, another Ashland Tidings article described the next step: “Under the direction of Fernando Rosada, the Italian expert who came up from San Francisco to superintend the erection of the Perozzi-Butler fountain, the work of installing the beautiful piece of marble work is progressing merrily. Rosada does not speak English and a good sized crowd of bystanders enjoys hearing Mr. Perozzi translate his instructions and watching Gwynn Butler try to get his meaning through manifold gestures.” What a fun scene to picture in your imagination!


Unveiling by 12-year-old Lucile Perozzi

At 8:00 pm on July 4th, people attended the unveiling of this beloved fountain that we still enjoy today. It was called the “Unveiling of the Fountain of Youth,” and it was quite an event.

The Medford Band played to open the ceremony. Professor Vining of Ashland, known as “the silver-tongued orator of the Northwest,” gave some remarks. Finally, the “Fountain of Youth” was unveiled by a youth: 12-year-old Lucile Perozzi, daughter of Domingo and Louise Perozzi, assisted by her “flower girls.”

Here is how the Ashland Tidings of July 6, 1916 described the fountain: “The fountain is made of beautiful Verona marble. The figure is that of Cupid playing with a swan. These words are inscribed on the fountain: ”Fiori di peshi,’ which is the Italian for ‘Flower of peaches.'”

Support the restoration of the fountain, a piece of Ashland history

Generations of Ashlanders and visitors have enjoyed visiting the Butler-Perozzi Fountain to take wedding photos, graduation photos or simply to relax by the flowing fountain.

Please donate to the restoration project so that future generations may have these same pleasures.


Peter Finkle is the founder of and leads Ashland walking tours.

THANKS for researching and sharing this fabulous story with us, Peter!!