The story of the fountain in Marion and Bob Oster's Lindenwood garden shows just how far history lovers will go to preserve a piece of the past.
When the Osters bought their Atherton property, the massive 1898 fountain was next door. But in 2005, their neighbor died and a prospective buyer said he wanted the fountain removed.
This so disconcerted Lindenwood residents that they rallied the town to pass an emergency ordinance protecting the relics of the Flood estate that dot their neighborhood. The buyer then backed out, and the Osters bought the property for slightly less than its $3.5 million asking price.
At the time, Marion Oster told The Almanac they planned to tear down the old house, tame the garden's overgrown vegetation so the fountain could be seen from the street, and renovate the fountain.
They've done just that.
The elaborate cast iron and zinc fountain, Oster says, was likely moved to its current location by 1900.
They knew that chlorine was damaging the fountain, "and that we had to do something to preserve it." After years of searching she found Conservation Solutions, Inc. Beginning on Dec. 1, 2016, meticulous workers from the company came onto the Oster's property with heavy equipment and "took the fountain apart, piece by piece and loaded it on trucks to ship to the East Coast."
That process showed parts of the metal frame had been damaged when covered with concrete. The fountain's statutes had no internal supports, the inside of the cast iron had never been primed and drain holes had been plugged.
Six months later, the shored up, primed and painted fountain was returned to Atherton. New plumbing and a filter system were added and the basin re-tiled.
"The fountain should last at least another 100 years," Oster said.
The fountain runs for a few hours weekdays and all day on Saturday and Sunday, she said. It can be seen from the street through an opening in the fence.
The Osters also have another notable Flood estate relic in their garden, the marble "Venus and two Cupids," signed by sculptor Raffaello Romanelli.
• See related story -- Glimpse of history: Flood estate artifacts offer a look into the past