The restoration of Metuchen’s cast iron water fountain, known locally as the “horse trough,” was an important local historic preservation project that high-lighted the creative collaboration of community organizations, the quality of the restoration by a well-respected firm, and the significance of the monument at a prominent location in town.
For 117 years, the beloved local landmark has stood within a landscaped triangle, and was originally built as a water fountain to service both people and animals. The fountain’s large front basin served to provide water to horses, a lower bowl (now gone) was to serve dogs, and its rear spigot allowed humans to enjoy a cold drink. Later, Stanley Steamers – turn of the last century cars that ran on boilers – used the trough to refill their boiler water.
The increasing deterioration prompted the Woodwild Park Association to spearhead the restoration effort. In June of 2016, they were joined by the Metuchen Arts Council, the Metuchen Garden Club, the Metuchen Borough Improvement League, Metuchen Historic Preservation Committee, and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. The collaborative effort resulted in an innovative approach to raising the needed funds, leading to a major financial commitment from a local bank. The restoration job was awarded to a well-qualified company, and the town will celebrate its return with a re-dedication ceremony.
The restoration of Metuchen’s horse trough, including the creative and collaborative fundraising, the high-quality restoration, and the opportunity for a community celebration, have all helped to raise community awareness of the importance of historic preservation. At a time when Metuchen is striving to strengthen its commitment to historic preservation, this effort has been successful in education the public about the importance of preserving Metuchen’s history.
The horse trough was restored by Robinson Iron of Alexander City, Alabama.
Below is a timeline of activities, from newest to oldest.
May 11, 2017
The project to restore the horse trough is recognized by New Jersey Historic Preservation Office and is awarded a New Jersey Historic Preservation Award. The award ceremony is held at the Burlington County Olde Courthouse in Mount Holly. The text at the beginning of this page was taken from the award nomination.
The following article appeared in the May 16 edition of the Edison-Metuchen Sentinel:
Metuchen horse trough takes prize
April 30, 2017
The horse trough is re-dedicated.
The following article appeared in the April 28 edition of the Home News Tribune:
Metuchen historic landmark to be rededicated Sunday
April 12, 2017
The horse trough arrives back in Metuchen.
The following article appeared in the April 18 edition of the Edison-Metuchen Sentinel:
Metuchen horse trough is back in place
February 14, 2017
The horse trough has been partially re-assembled and painted with black paint.
January 11, 2017
Inappropriate repairs made in 1980 are being reversed and done correctly. The various parts are painted with zinc primer.
January 6, 2017
The horse trough has been disassembled and is being cleaned thoroughly.
December 21, 2016
The horse trough is picked up by Robinson Iron for transport to Alabama.
The following article appeared in the December 22 edition of the Edison-Metuchen Sentinel:
Metuchen horse trough heads south for repair
November 16, 2016
The Fundraising Committee reports that it has raised sufficient funds to allow the restoration to begin. The committee presents bids from restoration vendors who are capable of undertaking the work. The Association approves the restoration of the horse trough and awards a contract for this work to Robinson Iron of Alexander City, Alabama. Robinson Iron has an impressive track record in restoring cast iron.
Click here for a list of fountains that the company has restored.
Click here for an example of restored ornate features similar to those found on the horse trough.
Click here for an example of a fountain that was restored by the company.
October 8, 2016
The association participates in the Metuchen Country Fair and raises additional funds.
June 26, 2016
The annual Art In The Garden event is held in and around Woodwild Park. Proceeds from the event are dedicated to the restoration of the horse trough.
November 4, 2015
The Fundraising Committee finishes the preparation of all fundraising materials. Brochures are printed and distributed. Letters are sent to potential donors. Fundraising begins in earnest.
July 25, 2015
The horse trough has continued to deteriorate as evidenced by the pictures below.
May 27, 2015
First meeting of the Fundraising Committee.
April 29, 2015
The association announces that it has obtained 501(c)(3) non-profit status and appoints a Fundraising Committee.
December 3, 2014
The association notes that the deterioration of the horse trough has progressed to a point where action is needed. As a first step, the association decides to seek federal non-profit status to facilitate fundraising.
June 5, 2009
The association notes the condition of the horse trough as a cause for concern as evidenced by the pictures below.
This page was last updated June 17, 2017