DETROIT – Millions of people visit Belle Isle Park every year and enjoy the James Scott Memorial Fountain.
Island visitors will continue to celebrate the fountain’s beauty and flowing waters for years to come as a result of the funds raised at this year’s charity event during Detroit Grand Prix race weekend – the PwC Grand Prixmiere, presented by Chevrolet.
The Grand Prixmiere gala took place on Friday, June 1 on Belle Isle as part of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear. The event raised approximately $1 million in private donations to the Belle Isle Conservancy for improvement projects at the island park.
On Tuesday Grand Prix officials, representatives from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), General Motors, DTE Energy and the Belle Isle Conservancy, announced that $400,000 of the money raised at this year’s Grand Prixmiere will be used specifically for crucial maintenance and improvement projects at Scott Fountain.
At Tuesday’s announcement, officials also stressed the importance of continued public and private contributions for improvements at the fountain, to ensure a bright future for the historic island landmark.
Since the Grand Prix brought world-class racing back to the Motor City on Belle Isle in 2012, the event, in partnership with DTE Energy, has helped restore the Scott Fountain to working order each summer under the direction of DTE engineer Robert Carpenter. Since 2014, when the MDNR took over day-to-day operations of Belle Isle, Carpenter – who has earned the unofficial title of “Fountain Fixer” – and DTE have worked closely with state officials to assist with the fountain’s annual maintenance.
Carpenter and the MDNR have identified several key initiatives at Scott Fountain that need immediate work in order to keep the Belle Isle monument in working order for summers to come. The targeted areas focus on infrastructure and pump system improvements to the 93-year-old Scott Fountain.
The projects that will be funded from the $400,000 Grand Prixmiere 2018 contributions include: repairing the marble on the fountain stairs, fixing leaks and broken pipes, painting the main fountain bowl, replacing damaged lighting, removing old caulk, resealing marble joints, mitigating humidity in the fountain’s control room and reinforcing tanks at the bottom of the fountain’s lower cascades. Some of the work will begin this fall.
Scott Fountain, named after Detroit socialite James Scott, was completed in 1925 at an estimated cost of $500,000. The “jewel” of Belle Isle has been celebrated even more in recent years at the Grand Prix. The fountain was featured in all creative elements of the 2018 PwC Grand Prixmiere presented by Chevrolet, and Michael Simcoe, Vice President of Global Design for General Motors, served as this year’s co-chair with his wife, Margaret.
Simcoe’s GM design team made the fountain the centerpiece of the Chevy Dual in Detroit IndyCar Grand Prix race trophies. The Victory Podium was relocated to Scott Fountain this year so that winners could celebrate with their teams and their families surrounded by the beauty of Belle Isle’s most iconic structure.
“Scott Fountain is one of the area’s treasures of design and craftsmanship,” said Simcoe. “It was an honor for us to highlight its beauty at the Grand Prixmiere gala, where the community came together to make this investment possible. I’m thrilled to see this restoration and preservation project begin.”
While the funds from this year’s Grand Prixmiere will help keep Scott Fountain operating for the next several years, the restoration efforts need continued support. Today, the Belle Isle Conservancy unveiled a text-to-donate campaign that allows anyone to contribute the Scott Fountain improvements by simply texting “fountain” to 313-349-2933. Normal text message rates may apply.
“The James Scott Memorial Fountain celebrates the history of Detroit and beauty of Belle Isle. We are honored to help shine the light on this special landmark every year at the Grand Prix and help keep the fountain flowing,” said Bud Denker, Chairman of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear. “We need to thank not only our partners with Chevrolet for this special gift to the fountain, but also PwC and all of the guests that attended and contributed to the Grand Prixmiere fundraiser this year. We also appreciate everything that DTE Energy, Robert Carpenter, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Belle Isle Conservancy do to keep this magnificent fountain operating each summer for everyone to enjoy.”