One of the real treasures of New Harmony – located at the back of the Cathedral Labyrinth – is the Orpheus Fountain. Sculpted of soft limestone by New York City sculptor Simon Verity, the lyre of Orpheus was suggested to him by Jane Owen. Verity noted that “Orpheus used a lyre to tame the wild beast,” and Owen suggest the lyre “to help tame the wild beast within those who walk the labyrinth.”
The fountain weighs about 9 tons, stands four feet high, and is fifteen feet wide. Water flows from seven carved-out indentations in the stone representative of the lyre’s strings. These seven rivulets flow into a basin intended for washing the feet of those walking the labyrinth.
Limestone for the fountain was quarried in central Indiana, then trucked to the Cathedral of St. John the Devine in Manhattan, where the sculptor is based. Once most of the sculpting was completed, it was dismantled and crated and shipped to New Harmony, where the sculptor oversaw it’s installation, and hand carved “Solvitur Ambulando” (Latin for “solved by walking”) along the base of the sculpture.
Located just outside the northern wall of the Harmonist cemetery, and just across the street from the Historic New Harmony Atheneum, the labyrinth – and the Orpheus Fountain – deserve your attention the next time you’re in New Harmony!