Jacob Wrey Mould is not one of the famous names that most people associate with the architecture of New York City or the design of Central Park, but the British-born architect was an important figure in both. After working on notable projects in England, he came to New York in the 1850s. In addition to designing residential homes and churches, Mould assisted Olmsted and Vaux in creating some of the most iconic structures in Central Park. He also had a hand in designing early iterations of New York City’s most important cultural landmarks. Mould served as Chief Architect for the New York City Parks Department and was a master of the Victorian Gothic style. He is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery. Though many of Mould’s distinctive buildings have been lost, we can see his unique style in the wonderful structures that remain. Read on to discover all of the Mould designed works in New York City!
1. City Hall Park Fountain
City Hall Park is one of the oldest parks in New York City and contains perhaps the most well-known piece of Mould’s work, the City Hall Park Fountain. The first fountain to grace the park was put in place in 1842 to celebrate the Croton Aqueduct’s completion. The aqueduct brought clean, safe water from upstate New York to the city. A few decades later, Jacob Wrey Mould was commissioned to design a new fountain for the park’s south end. Mould’s extravagant Victorian design features a thirty-foot square granite basin with a granite and bronze central column rising from the middle. Four elaborate, gas-lit candelabra adorn each corner, and every side has a small semi-circular pool.
Untapped Central Park Walking Tour
Mould’s ornate design was celebrated at the time, but after World War I, taste changed. New Yorkers no longer valued the fanciful fluff of Mould’s Victorian fountain. In 1920 it was shipped up to Crotona Park in the Bronx. New Yorkers disliked the new fountain, an allegorical depiction of “Civic Virtue,” even more than Mould’s design, so it was shipped to Queens. The park remained fountainless until 1972 when philanthropist George T. Delacorte gifted a new one. In 1995, Mayor Rudolph Guiliani sought to spruce up City Hall and its adjoining park with a $35 million renovation. Part of that project included the extensive restoration and reinstallation of Mould’s fountain. The fountain had been stripped of many ornamental features and covered in graffiti. Still, the conservation firm in charge of the restoration replaced all missing granite, bronze, and ceramic elements using Mould’s original sketches and photographs.