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The ‘monstrosity of art’ fountain in DC for teetotalers: Local hidden gem

From overlooked roadside attractions to offbeat museums and obscure natural wonders, Local Hidden Gems will showcase some of the unique and unexpected treasures that make America extraordinary. We will emphasize charm, surprise and delight.

Local hidden gem: Temperance Fountain, Washington, D.C.

Pick your poison – ice water or whiskey.

Henry D. Cogswell, a dentist from San Francisco, donated one of his series of temperance fountains to Washington, D.C., with the idea of encouraging passersby to sip ice water instead of throwing back a shot of whiskey. It has been standing since 1884 as a symbol of the movement that led to Prohibition.

The fountain is both dramatic and often overlooked in the nation's capital. It has a life-sized heron on top and an intertwined set of fish (some say dolphins) as the centerpiece, which years ago provided the ice water from their snouts. California Sen. Sheridan Downey tried to replace it in the 1940s, calling the fountain a “monstrosity of art.” It survived.

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The Temperance Fountain can be found at 7th St & Indiana Ave N.W. in Washington, D.C.

Local hidden gems:A spotlight on the American treasures in our backyards

Horses also got in on the game, with the water overflow going to troughs for their enjoyment.

And to truly test temptation, for years the fountain stood in front of the popular Apex Liquor Store. “It was ironic,” said , an author and historian who used to guide walking tours in D.C. before relocating to Santa Fe.

“It’s a relic from a bygone era, but it’s a bit of history and meant something,” Peck added.

And even though the ice water is no longer flowing from the fountain, there are plenty of haunts nearby to get whiskey.

Where: 7th St & Indiana Ave N.W., Washington, D.C.

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