What’s happening at “The Storyteller” fountain in 5 Points South? We’ve got the answers.

“Storyteller” Fountain at Five Points South (Stewart/Perry)

Next to Vulcan, the Storyteller Fountain at Five Points South, with its magical and playful sculptures by the late Frank Fleming, is one of the most Instagrammable spots in Birmingham. 

Thanks to the Birmingham Museum of Art, the City of Birmingham, Stewart/Perry and neighborhood leaders, the iconic fountain is in the midst of a much-needed makeover.

Care Needed

“Storyteller” Fountain at Five Points South (Stewart/Perry)

“Unfortunately, when you have works of art in the Alabama heat and sunshine around a water feature and human beings near sculptures, they do require care and a great deal of upkeep,” Graham Boettcher, The R. Hugh Daniels Director at the Birmingham Museum of Art, told Bham Now.

“It became clear the work that needed to be done on The Storyteller was more than routine maintenance.”  

Boettcher provided a few examples of the kinds of refurbishment work that will be conducted this month:

  • The basin will be completely cleaned and painted
  • Water features will be updated and made operational
  • Sculptural conservation experts will restore the bronze to its original vivid and rich colors

Stewart/Perry provided a construction windscreen that enables the people working on the sculpture room to work.

Maintaining the Fountain

Five Points South
Five Points South fountain. (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

When the fountain was dedicated in 1991, a fund was established in Cecil Roberts’ name, a legendary arts patron and civic leader..

Unfortunately, the fund was not created as an endowment, so over the years the money dwindled. The current restoration project to bring the fountain back has completely exhausted the monies available.

Boettcher told us routine maintenance of the statues and fountain can cost between $2500 to $5000 a year. It is not just about cleaning the fountain, but also waxing and maintaining the “patina” (the surface of the bronze).

“It’s a lot of work,” he added.

But it is worth it. Ask James Little, owner of FILTER-Coffee Parlor, the coffee shop across from the fountain.

“The fountain is the town square of Five Points. It’s the spirit of the neighborhood. When the fountains work the neighborhood works.”

How You Can Help

According to Boettcher, depending on weather, work on The Storyteller fountain will finish near the beginning of July 2023.

If you are interested in supporting the perpetual care of  the fountain and all of Fleming’s bright and glorious sculptures, contact the Birmingham Museum of Art and send a donation. Make sure to designate your donation for The Storyteller fountain at Five Point South. 

Get updates like this delivered to your inbox daily. Subscribe to Bham Now’s free newsletter today. 

Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

Articles: 2256