For one more, let’s begin at the beginning, with one of the earliest pieces in the World of Coca-Cola: It’s a soda fountain from the 1880s -- from the same time John Pemberton created Coca-Cola.
The soda fountain had been in storage since the 1960s, but we never had an adequate space to display it. We knew it was a gorgeous fountain, and knew it was old, but didn’t know the details of where it had been used.
Before World of Coca-Cola opened last May, the Atlanta newspaper ran an article about the fountain and how we were restoring it. That not only helped people get excited about the soda fountain and upcoming opening, but it led a family to us -- a family that could answer our questions.
It turns out the ornate fountain was used in a Toomsboro, GA, shop housing a drug store and doctor’s office for a physician named A.D. Ware, who worked out of the small two-room building from 1930 to 1955. His family contacted us after reading the article. They even gave us a photo of the fountain in his shop, which hangs next to the restored fountain. The still unanswered question is where the soda fountain was used prior to Dr. Ware’s shop.
And though it was in great shape for a 120-year-old piece, the fountain did need some restoration. Some detailed alabaster pieces had to be fixed. One of the oddest things we needed to fix was a finial at the top of fountain’s mirror. It had been sawed in half before we got the fountain. I’d always thought someone cut it off (to be the same height as the top of the fountain) to fit it in a crate. When Dr. Ware’s family showed me the photo of the fountain in use, though, I had an answer. The finial had been cut off to fit inside the building! It was higher than the ceiling!
So that question was answered, but we wanted to get the finial repaired. We found an expert woodworker in Pennsylvania who created a new top for us -- perfectly matching the bottom half we had.
The soda fountain weighs roughly a ton. I joked that the truck from Argentina wasn’t going anywhere unless the World of Coca-Cola building came down. I’d say this fountain isn’t going anywhere either!
More on Journey
- Ghost Signs Before They Were Ghosts: Preserving a Rare Photo Album for the Coca-Cola Archives
- How Italy Celebrates Carnival
- How Coca-Cola Brands Make it to the Big (or Small) Screen
- The Story of Frank O'Hara's ‘Having a Coke With You’ Poem
- Andy Warhol and Coca-Cola: From Classic to New Coke and Back Again