Kohler restoring 1926 Memorial Fountain in Mt. Morris

‘We are so grateful and feel very lucky to have found the Kohler Foundation’


MT. MORRIS — The Kohler Foundation Inc. (KFI), in Kohler, Wisconsin, is restoring the Veterans Memorial Fountain in Mt. Morris. The fountain, on the northeast corner of the campus square, was a project of Mt. Morris Post 143 of the American Legion, presented to the village and dedicated on Nov. 14, 1926, to honor Mt. Morris veterans of World War I, and the five local soldiers who were killed in action. Resident Heathcote Mann designed it, and all work not requiring skilled labor was done by local legion members. The fountain is made of stones sent by American Legion Posts, organizations, and individuals across the U.S., inscribed with many donor names.  

The Kohler Foundation learned of the fountain when it was contacted by Paula Diehl, executive director of the Economic Development Committee (EDC), and Rob Urish, the EDC chairman. They called Kohler looking for someone to appraise the fountain. As the conversation continued, Diehl mentioned that the nearly 100-year-old fountain needed refurbishing. 

“I was stunned when they said, ‘Did you know that’s what we do?’”, Diehl said. “We had so many dead ends looking for someone to appraise it, and the right direction to go for restoration. When they said they could have it appraised and restored, I was astonished. After that, everything just fell into place.”  

“We are so grateful and feel very lucky to have found the Kohler Foundation and that they’ve agreed to take on this project,” Diehl said. “They’re experts, so we know it will be done right. And they appreciate the history and artistry.” 

“Kohler Foundation is honored to invest in the conservation of the Veteran's Memorial Fountain, an important piece of Mt. Morris’ history as well as vernacular art,” Beth Wiza, preservation project manager for the Kohler Foundation, said. “Families and other American Legions contributed memorial stones to create this monument to fallen soldiers.”

Heritage Restoration and Design, masonry conservators from Peoria, was selected by KFI for their expertise in the material. The work began May 28 and includes thoroughly cleaning the surfaces, tuckpointing each joint, and reattaching any fallen elements. The beloved sculpture will return to its original aesthetic to honor the soldiers lost in World War I.  

“For over 30 years Kohler Foundation has preserved art environments across the country — from Maine to Kansas and many places in between,” Wiza said. “It’s exciting to increase access to the arts and build community through art preservation projects.”