Where is Paul Yank’s “Tulip Fountain”?


There is a mystery I’ve been trying to solve.

Cathedral Square, in Downtown Milwaukee, has had two fountains. The first was an ornate iron Victorian fountain.  It was removed around 1939.

The second “Tulip Fountain,” by Cedarburg artist Paul J. Yank, was installed at the same location (toward the south end of the square) in 1979.  It was originally commissioned by Milwaukee World Festivals, Inc., but ended up as a gift from a single donor to Milwaukee County.  Cathedral Square is a Milwaukee County Park.

When Thursday night “Jazz in the Park” started in 1991, according to Yank’s wife Marian, someone associated with the event contacted Yank and explained that the “Tulip” would be temporarily de-installed to put in a stage, but would be reinstalled the following year.

This never happened.  I checked with the Downtown Business Improvement District, Milwaukee County Parks, East Town Association, H. Russell Zimmermann, and the commercial real estate firm Cassidy Turley Barry.  Not one of these sources could tell me where it is.  Twenty years later, its whereabouts are a mystery.

I support plans to renovate Cathedral Square and build a permanent stage on the north end that would also house restroom facilities and storage space.  This would open up the location on the south end that used to have a fountain.

I am not passionate about “Tulip Fountain.”  However, we residents of Milwaukee County own it.  I think we should know what happened to it.

Does anyone have any information about where “Tulip Fountain” is?

When I spoke with Zimmermann, author of a number of books about Milwaukee area architecture, including The Heritage Guidebook and Magnificent Milwaukee, he mentioned he has pictures of the original fountain and has been on a quest to have a replica installed at Cathedral Square.  He has even located original models of the sculpture.

Milwaukee, with its long winters, does not seem the best-suited city for former Mayor Henry Maier’s “City of Fountains” program.  However, bringing a fountain back to Cathedral Square, in a way that would highlight the Cream City brick Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, might be perfect.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dave
    Nov 01, 2011 @ 21:36:09

    Here’s a picture of the fountain:


    • Pegi Christiansen
      Nov 02, 2011 @ 02:35:17

      Thanks Dave! My blog is intended as a notebook of ideas. I have resisted inserting images, but I should have posted a link. Thank you for filling in this gap.


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