One might say the past has sprung back to life at the Wawona Hotel in Yosemite National Park, where an iconic stone water fountain has been restored.
The gracious Victorian hotel, located near the park's south entrance, dates to 1879, when life was a bit simpler though travel more difficult. With gorgeous white buildings surrounded by verandas and sprawling green lawns, the hotel featured two eye-catching features -- a stone fountain right in front of the hotel, and another at the entrance to the nearby Thomas Hill Studio.
The main fountain, built sometime late in the 19th century, and the one by the studio, built in 1895, recently came back to life thanks to $400,000 in rehabilitation work performed with the help of the Yosemite Conservancy, the Delaware North Companies, and the National Park Service.
“Yosemite’s natural wonders are complemented by historic places like the Wawona Hotel and its fountains,” said Yosemite Conservancy President Mike Tollefson. “By connecting people to the park through its history, we are improving the visitor’s experience today and encouraging people to preserve Yosemite for future generations.”
The Wawona Hotel fountain sits prominently at the center of the hotel’s formal circular drive. It has long been in need of repair, and has been covered for years by a protective tarp. The rehabilitation work brought back each fountain’s most recent appearance, as well as updating plumbing to contemporary standards with water-saving features, according to Conservancy officials.
“The fountains are important features of the cultural landscape of the Wawona district," said Yosemite Superintendent Don Neubacher. "It’s wonderful to see that they’ve been given new life so that visitors can enjoy part of Yosemite’s early history.”
The Wawona Hotel, opened in 1879 and designated as a National Historic Landmark, is the largest existing Victorian hotel complex within the boundaries of a national park.
Today, the Wawona Visitor Center at the Thomas Hill Studio provides information, wilderness permits, books and opportunities tolearn more about Hill’s work. Built in 1883, it has been an artist’s studio and showroom, a dance hall, and even an ice cream parlor.