Improvements have been made to the water fountain in downtown Winter Garden’s Centennial Plaza.
by: Amy Quesinberry Community Editor
The iconic fountain in downtown Winter Garden is taking a break for a few weeks, but when it resumes the water flow, residents and visitors will see a marked improvement in its appearance.
Three local businesses —McCulloch Masonry and Construction, Richco, and Tildenville Marketplace — have been working to refurbish the popular photo backdrop on Plant Street.
Alex McCulloch of McCulloch Masonry and Construction; volunteer Sara Bourgaize; artist Tina LaVallee; and Denis Richardson of Richco all played a role in the refurbishing of the downtown Winter Garden fountain in Centennial Plaza.
The city of Winter Garden hired McCulloch to manage the project, and that firm retained the artist and subcontractors, said Michael Caines, Fleet and Facilities Division manager for Winter Garden. The contracted cost was $88,000, and the project was a budgeted item paid for from the city’s General Fund.
The fountain was constructed in 2002. Because of general exposure to weather and use, water features require occasional refurbishments to keep them in peak operating condition.
“A number of issues had surfaced over time that could not be resolved with general maintenance,” Caines said. “There were cracks in the upper precast sections, (and) a few of the decorative panels surrounding the base structure had deteriorated with reinforcement wire showing and rusting.
On the upper levels of the fountain, the mosaic tiles had also deteriorated, and the interior floor needed to be sealed and recoated.”Alex McCulloch, of McCulloch Masonry and Construction, said his crew recast all the damaged precast concrete decorative pieces and rehabilitated the interior of the fountain basin “to revitalize it and give it a brand-new, fresh look.”
The fountain was losing five gallons each day through cracks that had formed in the concrete, said Denis Richardson, of Richco. “The bottom of the fountain was appalling,” he said. His team added a one-and-one-half-inch epoxy resin and then sealed it with another special resin. The interior is a sparkling aqua blue again, and the fountain will no longer leak.
Tina LaVallee, owner of Tildenville Marketplace, was contracted to work on the mosaic tiles depicting the citrus packing labels. Several other people volunteered their time for the project and worked alongside LaVallee.
Artist Tina LaVallee and Sara Bourgaize spent hours replacing the broken and missing tiles at the downtown Winter Garden fountain in Centennial Plaza.
She said every one of the label images needed some sort of touchup. She spent an entire day replacing the missing mosaic pieces, and then she worked on the two that were damaged and had to be replaced.
For this project, she obtained glass in 13 different colors and cut them to size to blend the old with the new on the mosaics. LaVallee added a dot of glue to each small piece of glass and positioned it by hand with tweezers. When the label designs were completed, she bonded them with grout.
LaValee said she is excited to be part of the crew working on the fountain.
“I was around working on the Edgewater Hotel, refurbishing it, when the fountain came in, so I’ve been a part of many restorations in the Winter Garden area,” she said. “So this one feels natural for me to be involved in. … For me, this was just a perfect fit.” Caines said the fountain should be up and running again by the first week of March, subject to weather.
Artist Tina LaVallee created templates of the citrus labels to arrange the mosaic tile pieces before affixing them to the exterior of the actual fountain.
The citrus crate labels depicted on the downtown Winter Garden fountain in Centennial Plaza were created with hundreds of pieces of cut glass.
An aerial view of the downtown Winter Garden fountain in Centennial Plaza shows the water feature after its cleanup and resurfacing.