BY PAUL BICKLEY
Fountain Square turns 30 on September 10. On Tuesday, September 4, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., CFC Properties, which owns the south side of the downtown Square, will host the 30th anniversary celebration on West Kirkwood and extend it into Fountain Square to tour the updated spaces.
“I want to acknowledge long-term mall tenants and celebrate our great community,” CFC President Jim Murphy says. “The party will replicate the one that Steve Ferguson [chairman of the Cook Group and former CFC president] organized for the mall’s dedication 30 years ago.”
Attendees can expect to enjoy desserts and goody bags (while supplies last); hear from special guest speakers; tour Fountain Square’s updated spaces, including the Ballroom and Fountain Area; and view the new Fountain Square Gallery Wall.
Ferguson initiated Bill and Gayle Cook’s acquisition of the 10 buildings on the downtown Square’s south side. Fountain Federal Savings Bank owned the block at the time. “A Fountain Federal board member asked me if we had any interest in the properties,” Ferguson recalls. “We did. That was the best commercial side of the Square, with Tovey Shoes and Bloomington Hardware. Looking at them from the outside, we thought the south-side buildings were the best on the Square. But we got in and found out they were the worst. The back of a building fell out one night. It’s amazing that the whole thing didn’t fall into Kirkwood.”
The Cooks and CFC repoured foundations, replaced other infrastructure, reinforced walls, and interconnected the 10 buildings to create a mall. “The Cooks wanted to bring people downtown and create activity and vibrancy at the first-floor level,” Murphy says. “The mall would get people downtown and spread them out. They also wanted to control the whole south side of the Square to protect commercial businesses, which signal healthy economies.”
Adds Ferguson, “Much of downtown was empty and unkempt. Downtown is the heart of a community. Bill wanted to brighten things up and attract attention to the Square. That’s why the mall has a pink wall with flower boxes and, inside, yellow steps.”
“There’s a direct relationship between the Cooks’ downtown restorations like Graham Plaza and Fountain Square Mall, and recent downtown developments,” Murphy says. “Without the Cooks, I don’t know what would have become of downtown.”