First Posted: July 17, 2012
Jan 20, 2020

Dupont Circle Fountain History

Wikipedia Commons
Dupont Circle Fountain
Artist: Daniel Chester French
Year: 1920
Type: Stone
Location: Washington, D.C., United States
Owner: National Park Service
Coordinates: 38°54'34.7?N 77°2'36.4?W

The Dupont Circle Fountain (formally known as the Samuel Francis Du Pont Memorial Fountain) by Daniel Chester French was commissioned by the du Pont family in 1917, installed 1920, and was dedicated on May 17, 1921. It is located in Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C., at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue NW, Connecticut Avenue NW, New Hampshire Avenue NW, P Street NW, and 19th Street NW. The fountain is a contributing monument to the Civil War Monuments in Washington, DC, of the National Register of Historic Places.

The inscription reads:

Samuel Francis Dupont - Rear Admiral, United States Navy, 1803-1865
This Memorial Fountain Replaces a Statue Erected by the
Congress of the United States in Recognition of
His Distinguished Services.


Water falling over the figure representing the sea.

In 1871, the Army Corps of Engineers began construction of the traffic circle, then called Pacific Circle, as specified in L'Enfant's plan.

On February 25, 1882, Congress renamed the circle to Dupont Circle, and authorized a memorial statue of Samuel Francis Du Pont, in recognition of his service as a rear admiral during the Civil War. The statue, sculpted by Launt Thompson, was erected in 1884, and the circle was landscaped with exotic flowers and ornamental trees.

Image: Public Domain
Memorial statue of Samuel Francis Du Pont/Launt Thompson

In 1921, the current double-tiered white marble fountain replaced the statue, which was moved to Rockford Park in Wilmington, Delaware. Daniel Chester French and architect Henry Bacon, the co-creators of the Lincoln Memorial, designed the fountain, which features carvings of three classical nudes symbolizing the sea, the stars and the wind on the fountain's shaft. The marble carving was executed by the Piccirilli Brothers.

In the late 1990s the fountain was restored and renovated with work by Constantine Seferlis.

If you look closely at the figures on the fountain you will see two women and one male figure. They represent the sea, stars and wind. All are necessary for ocean navigation. "One woman is depicted holding a boat in one hand, stroking a gull with the other, which symbolizes the sea; stars are represented by a second female figure holding a globe. The wind is depicted by a strong male figure draped in the wind-filled sail of a ship, holding a conch shell horn." Changes Over Time to Dupont Circle Fountain