The fountain, a memorial to Clarence Buckingham, was donated to the South Park Commission by his sister, Kate Buckingham, cost $750,000 and was dedicated Aug. 26, 1927.
Parks officials will start the fountain in an opening ceremony at 11 a.m. Thursday with officials from the March of Dimes, Kmart and its corporate parent, Sears Holdings Corp. Sears Holdings and Kmart are donating to the Park District so the ceremony can also serve to kick off a 2013 fundraising effort for the March of Dimes in partnership with Kmart, said Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner, who did not have the exact amount of the donation available this afternoon.
After the fountain is turned on Thursday, it will operate from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily into the Fall, with its turnoff date dependent on the weather. The fountain, inspired by the Latona Fountain at Versailles, is twice the size of the Latona. Starting at 9 a.m. each day, every hour on the hour the fountain puts on its major water displays, including shooting a jet 150 feet into the air. Starting at dusk, colored lights in the fountain and music accompany the hourly water display.
Clarence Buckingham, who died in 1913 at age 58, was a director of the Art Institute, an art collector, and a businessman involved with companies including banks and commodities exchange companies. For a time, he was president of the Northwestern Elevated Co., which built what is known as the north branch of the Red Line.
Kate Buckingham donated $1 million to build the fountain and set up an endowment to maintain it. The fund helped pay for part of a renovation that was begun in 2008.