The restoration of the Chauncey Hurlbut Memorial Gate at Water Works
Park is currently underway. The gate, which was completed in 1894, was
once a symbol of Detroit featured on postcards. "We want to reclaim
that symbol," says George Ellenwood, assistant director of the Detroit
Water and Sewage Department.
The restoration entails architectural and structural analysis, repair
and replacement of damaged limestone blocks, reconfiguration of the
park-facing stairway and repair of the eagle sculpture perched atop the
gate. Metal lighting fixtures were repaired when possible and
replicated when necessary by Detroit-based craftsman Carl Nielbock of
CAN Art Handworks. Concrete in front of the gate will be replaced with
grass and wrought-iron fencing.
Ellenwood says the restoration effort does have its limits. The
half-shells that most people suppose are fountains were actually
troughs for horses. While they will be restored in appearance, DWSD
will not be running water to them. There are also some large
lantern-like structures that will not be replaced due to their
prohibitive expense. The gate will, however, be illuminated at night.
The project, which got underway in January, will be complete by the end
of September and the total cost is estimated at between $600,000 and
$800,000. Chauncey Hurlbut, who served on the Detroit Board of Water
Commissioners in the late Nineteenth Century, willed his entire estate
to the construction and upkeep of Water Works Park. Thus, a portion of
the project total will likely be underwritten by the Hurlbut Trust, a
fund that exists solely for that purpose.
Ellenwood clearly sees the Hurlbut Gate as significant. "This is
something meaningful on Jefferson that people, especially Detroiters,
can relate to." The department plans to incorporate the gate into tours
of the park and the treatment plant they give to schools and community
Source: George Ellenwood, DWSD
Writer: Kelli B. Kavanaugh