National Geographic : 1951 Jul
46 National Geographic Photographer B. Anthony Stewart Touch System on Fountain Keyboard Plays Symphonies in Water and Color Longwood's fountain displays rival those at Versailles, France. They make the gardens one of America's outstanding showplaces. Like an organist at a console, superintendent Russell P. Brewer (left) fingers 290 switches and levers to fashion multitinted shower patterns on the lawn before him. The board's color tabs are so finely graduated that he can make light changes undetected by the human eye. that a quick glance over the huge lawn in day time reveals nothing but orderly clumps of boxwood, bordered by trim hedges and skirted with a double row of maple trees. But about 30 evenings every summer water and colored lights go into action, transforming the lawn into an enchanting scene. Water Display-Push-button Style The constantly changing, intricate patterns of the gigantic fountains and multicolored lights are controlled by the mere touch of a finger. Just below the level of the ter race stands the glass-fronted control room (above). At the control board one man usually Russell P. Brewer, superintendent of maintenance-operates the many water jets and lights like an organist playing a console. The "keyboard" consists of 108 levers which control the intensity, change, speed and order of change of the colored lights, and 182 switches which control the circuits of the colored lights and water. So complex is the board that Brewer still discovers new com binations for water patterns. The color switches are so finely graduated that the oper ator can make light changes that the human eye cannot detect. When Brewer came to Longwood in 1915, he and his associates, under Mr. du Pont's direction, laid out and engineered the entire fountain system. In 1937 New York engineers sweated over fountain display plans for the World's Fair. To obtain the necessary know how, they went to Longwood. The pride of Brewer's staff is Old Faith ful, Longwood's largest fountain. By use of compressed air, it can shoot a regal stream up to 140 feet in the air (page 50). It is supported by two single columns 80 feet high and 12 smaller ones that fling showers 30 feet into the air. Or Old Faithful itself can be spread into a fan-shaped spray 40 feet high and 100 feet wide (page 53).