Metal Lion Head
Date: c. 1890
Description: This brass lion head is one of a pair on display here at the museum, and has an interesting history. The lion heads were built by the Sioux City Foundry Company and attached to a fountain that originally served as a watering trough for horses at the edge of the Combination Bridge, with water flowing out of the lions’ mouths. Meanwhile, on the Westside, people had already been enjoying the oldest park in the city platted by Dr. John Cook, which he named Central Square and renamed Central Park, as it was in the center of his original Sioux City plat. In 1936 the City Council renamed this park Cook Park to honor Sioux City’s founder. It had many amenities, including a bandstand, voting booth, and beautiful fountain. By 1953, automobile traffic had replaced horses, rendering the watering trough at the Combination Bridge as a purely decorative piece. It was moved to the newly opened Graceland Cemetery, but as the cemetery grew through the 1960s the lion head fountains were moved to storage. In 1981 the city moved the Cook Park to a plot just north of its original setting, between Market Street, Main Street, West 4th, and West 6th Streets. The lion head fountain was removed from storage and placed in the southwest corner of the new Cook Park, where it still sits today. To protect them from wear and vandals, the original brass lion heads were replaced with plaster and given to the Sioux City Public Museum for safekeeping.
Another old city park on the Westside is Children’s Park, which unlike Cook Park has remained in its same location since it was founded in 1886. It was founded by William Remsen Smith and built just south of his farm, breaking up where West 15th Street is today. When it was built the park sported a wading pool and one of the most stunning fountains in the city. Unfortunately the fountain is no longer there (it was probably melted down in the 1940s to contribute to the war effort) but the park remains, just south of the new Liberty Elementary School. The wading pool has been removed and a playground set built where the pool once stood.
Donor: Sioux City Parks and Recreation