As many of you have noticed, Cochran Park pool needs help. Dedicated board member, Mason Riddle, has been working on how best to have it restored to its original beauty for four years, and she has had a small committee for more than a year. Sadly, RHA’s Star Grant application, an effort led by former board chair Dan Reed, was declined. Undaunted, _ she worked with the City of Saint Paul to author a Minnesota Historical Society Legacy Grant pre-application proposing the restoration of the pool tiles, five bronze Paul Manship (1885-1966) sculptures and the pool’s wrought iron railing. It was submitted on July 22nd. The City made the cut, and after addressing comments and meeting with MHS and The City, Mason answered questions and rewrote the grant application which was submitted by The City to MHS late September. Why the City you ask? Because the City owns the land, and thus the pool and sculptures, they must be the applicant, not RHA.
The triangular piece of land at the intersection of Summit, Western and Portland Avenues, was owned by the Cochran family, and had been a place of play for neighborhood children. In 1923, Emilie Cochran (1844-1924), donated the land to the City with the caveat it must be a park dedicated to children. Emilie lived with her husband, Thomas Cochran II (1843-1906), and 6 children, at 59 Western Avenue, across from the park. Her son, Thomas Cochran III (1871-1936), then living in NYC, commissioned his friend, Manship, a Saint Paul native also living in NYC, to create a sculpture cycle to be the centerpiece of a small circular pool. Cochran Park was dedicated in 1926, featuring the cast bronze sculpture Indian Hunter and His Dog and the four cast bronze Goose fountains. Due to vandalism, the sculptures were removed to Como Park in the late 1960s. The original Italian pool tiles were also degrading. Following a huge effort led by Public Art Saint Paul, the sculptures were restored and the tiles recreated from photographs in 1994-95. The Park was re-dedicated on July 1, 1995, along with the nearby Nathan Hale sculpture in Nathan Hale Park. Cochran Park’s gothic stone folly, or shelter, was designed by the Saint Paul architect Edwin H. Lundie (1886-1972). Its interior is graced by bronze plaque inscribed with a poignant Robert Louis Stevenson poem about fleeting childhood, thus reinforcing Emilie’s wish for the park to be dedicated to children.
Minnesota’s weather, and our severe freeze-thaw cycle has been unkind to the below grade pool. Our intent is to restore the nearly century-old pool to its former beauty.
Learn more about the efforts to restore Cochran Park by clicking here!