Horton Plaza Park Fountain Uncovered, Renovated

An iconic piece of San Diego's history came out from under wraps Tuesday.

The fountain in downtown's Horton Plaza Park has been sealed in industrial shrink wrap since last fall as the area undergoes renovation to become a grand new public plaza.

The wrap protected the distinctive piece from debris and dirt kicked up by the reconstruction project, as well as from vandals and graffiti artists.

But on Tuesday, crews welcomed it back to the open air, readying it for a 21st century makeover.

The domed fountain was built along with a small, quarter-block park in 1910, the year after Alonzo Horton, the so-called Father of Downtown, died at the age of 96.

Last year, work crews popped the top off to take the dome off-site for upgrades and safekeeping while construction crews went about the $18 million “urban square” project on Broadway and 4th Avenue.

Click here to see a timelapse of the project.

The fountain’s original marble columns and structure are being retained and strengthened, but there will be brand-new plumbing in the water-feature part of it, topped by a small dome.

As for the big, ornate, wrought-iron dome, it will get some replacement glass insets, designed and produced to match the 20th century materials.

When the renovation is done, crews will hoist it to the perch where it belongs.

"You know, we're putting it back together and you gotta use kid gloves,” said Mike Tonioli, the Spectra Company field supervisor. “You can't just jam it. It's not new construction; it's old and fragile, and it's got to be put back precisely the way we took it off."

The fountain is also a lesson in inflation. In 1910, it was built for $10,000. Now, this renovation will run $450,000.

Back in the early 1900s, the project was bankrolled by Louis Wilde, owner of the U.S. Grant Hotel, who later became San Diego's mayor.

The revitalized plaza is set to open late this year across the street from our NBC 7 studio.

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