North and East Neighborhood hopes to restore historic centerpiece

North and East Neighborhood hopes to restore historic centerpiece
Circle at the back of Clinton Hill, the former location of the neighborhood's fountain .

Neighbors who live in Richmond's North and East neighborhood have formed a group with the goal of breathing new life into one of the area's historic spaces.

Resident Alexander Martinez has spearheaded a project to bring back the Clinton Hill fountain, which he hopes will be a collaborative effort providing the neighborhood with something to be proud of for many years to come.

"We are hoping to revitalize and beautify the neighborhood. We want to get as many people involved as possible and create something lasting that we are proud of, something with history that is also beautiful," Martinez said.

Before much of the neighborhood was constructed, a fountain adorned the west side of Clinton Hill. The fountain, along with the boundary marking pillars and prominent pink sidewalks, were well-known hallmarks of the area just west of not yet-named San Pablo Avenue more than a hundred years ago.

If North Berkeley's Marin Circle Fountain and the area around it seem similar to Clinton Hill's, it's not your imagination. Both areas were developed by the same team and contain the same elements; a fountain, pillars, and pink sidewalks.

In the early days of Richmond, the North and East neighborhood, then known then as Grand View Terrace, grew around the fountain, which remained in its place on the hill for several generations. The fountain stopped working and, at some point, was removed. Most residents who have lived in the area for a while aren't exactly sure when the fountain was removed, but its spot has remained empty for some time, leaving the vacant space up to neighbors to maintain and keep clean.

While many neighbors say that they prefer a fountain closely resembling the original fixture to retain the neighborhood's look and feel, others are more interested in an art installation or something completely different for the space.

North and East Neighborhood Council President Jan Mignone likes the idea of replacing the fountain. Mignone said the neighborhood is home to many artists, and including them in planning would benefit the project.

"We are lucky to have so many artists that live here; it would be really good to get have their input," Mignone said. Mignone also suggested that removing the juniper currently occupying the area might be a good idea.

Apparently, not everyone loves the juniper.

Martinez agrees the first step is to remove the shrub, which some complain is a catch-all for blowing trash and potential habitat for assorted vermin.

"We plan to pull all of the juniper out and replace it with native plants," Martinez said.

Martinez and other organizers plan to have a booth at the annual North and East Neighborhood Picnic on September 9th, where neighbors can stop by and make a donation to the project and cast their vote on a favorite plan for the site.

For more information, visit the project website.

Clinton Hill Fountain Circle
Mission of the project

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