I have been to Oberlin College twice. In 2002, I traveled through Oberlin on my return trip from visiting the Glenn Curtiss Aviation Museum in Hammonsport, New York. I tried to locate the fountatin dedicated to Katharine Wright Haskell; however, no one seemed to know where it was.

This past March, I drove to Baldwin-Wallace College to watch a premiere of a drama by Jack Winget. En route, I stopped through Oberlin, having researched the fountain’s location. Most of it was covered, but the cherub was clearly visible.

I just received this link to the following article from Betty Gabrielli… neat article about the memorial fountain.

Seventy-six years ago, a marble fountain crowned by a small boy playing with a dolphin first graced the plaza fronting Allen Memorial Art Museum. The bronze figure, a replica of the original by the 15th-century Florentine artist Andrea del Verrocchio, was a small, delicate sculpture, an angel lifting into the air on wings.

The fountain is a kind of love letter to Katharine Wright, the sister and “third member” of the powered-flight team of Wilbur and Orville Wright, from her husband, journalist Henry “Harry” Haskell.

At Oberlin, Katharine was a member of the Class of 1898. Harry, who was two years ahead of her, tutored her in math. They remained friends after graduating, and during the next 30 years, Katharine not only went on to support her brothers, Wilbur and Orville, but she also became the second woman ever elected to the Oberlin’s Board of Trustees. During that time, Harry married and became a journalist, winning two Pulitzer Prizes and eventually editing the Kansas City Star.

In the 1920s, with Harry now a widower, they began a courtship, largely by letters. In 1926, despite the adamant opposition of Orville, who had been Katharine’s constant companion for 14 years after Wilbur’s death, Katharine and Harry married. “They were two Victorian people caught up in a passion that neither understood,” says Harry’s grandson, Harry Haskell. “They were swept off their feet by each other.” But their happiness was short lived. In 1929, while preparing for a European trip, Katharine caught a cold that turned into pneumonia. She died on March 3 at the age of 54.

In 1931, as a tribute to Katharine, a bereft Harry sent 25 crates of hand-cut Italian marble to Oberlin to be assembled as a fountain and inscribed with the words: “To Katharine Wright Haskell 1874-1929.” Installed near the Allen Memorial Art Museum, the fountain quickly became a campus favorite, attracting visitors, students, and bridal parties, but over the years the structure began to deteriorate, and the water flow eventually ceased

That has recently changed. Thanks to the generosity of many donors, including friends and family members, particularly the late Katharine Wright Chaffee ’44 and the Wright Family Foundation in Dayton, Ohio, the fountain has been restored to full working condition by internationally recognized Fairplay Stonecarvers of Oberlin.  

To celebrate its restoration, a public program will be held Friday, September 28 at 1:30 p.m. on the lawn of the art museum, located at 87 North Main Street in Oberlin. Among the speakers will be Judith Haskell Zernich ’72, granddaughter of Henry J. Haskell; Marianne Hudec, grandniece of Wilbur, Orville, and Katharine Wright; James P. Howard, director of principal gifts at Oberlin; Stephanie Wiles, John G.W. Cowles Director of the Allen Memorial Art Museum; and sculptor Nicholas G. Fairplay.

In the event of inclement weather, the program will take place in the museum.

Media Contact:  Betty Gabrielli

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