(Barry Chin/Globe staff)
As they circled overhead, Joshua Craine eyed the pigeons warily.
Over the past year, the sculpture conservator spent most of his waking hours doting on bronzed sea nymphs and other Parisian-styled gods, using a brush and a torch to restore the eroded glory of the city’s oldest fountain.
Today, after months of cleaning pigeon waste and bringing back the gleam of the gargoyles, Craine stood in a crowd of politicians, donors, and others on the northeast corner of Boston Common, watching nervously as water – for the first time in years – began sluicing through the spouts he repaired on the 142-year-old Brewer Fountain.
“It’s beautiful to see like this,” he said, as gentle streams oozed from 40 spouts and splashed into a newly restored granite pool.
The fountain, the only known surviving copy of the original featured at the 1855 Paris World Fair, was imported from Switzerland by Gardner Brewer, a wealthy merchant, and assembled on the Common in 1868. It ran dry in 2003, but it had long before become a victim of time, neglect, and pollution.
In the end, the long-delayed project cost $640,000, which included $350,000 from the city and the rest from the federal government and local benefactors. The restoration is part of a larger multimillion-dollar project, much of it to be financed by private donors, to beautify the surrounding area with new trees, benches, granite, fences, and more.
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