Glen Mortenzen, 90, stood on a grassy mound and looked on as a construction crew tore down the iconic water fountain he designed half a century ago.
“It’s a tearful thing,” said the retired architect. “Since 1956-57. We designed it. It’s been a long time. The plaza. The walkway. Now it’s all gone.”
The court plaza in Stockton is under demolition, soon to be replaced by a new courthouse. The old court building is outdated and unsafe, officials say.
It was emotional and nostalgic for Mortenzen to watch the water feature be removed. “It’s something that should be preserved,” he said.
(I shared with him my experience as a child. My mother used to take us shopping downtown to Newberry’s, Rosenthal’s, Kress, etc. We bought lunch and sat by the fountain. We tossed coins in the water and made wishes. Watching the water fall down from this gigantic structure was the coolest thing to me — then about 6 years old.)
“There’s a story about somebody putting an octopus in it many years ago,” Mortenzen said. True story, he said.
“There’s a lot of things that have happened,” he said. “It’s given a lot of people joy and happiness.
“It’s tearful. When you design something like that for the community, it tugs at the heart.”
It’s not all sad news for the fountain.
A new organization — Save Downtown Stockton Foundation — is planning to preserve the tall, copper, water-spewing sphere that used to be attached to the basin.
The organization is looking for a place in Stockton where the feature can be installed, said Christina Frankel, a board member of the foundation and a local architect.
“Hopefully, it will be re-installed someplace in the city and continue on,” Mortenzen said.