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A Benson Bubbler with a View

By 4 Comments

While most Portlanders love our iconic Benson Bubblers, many don't realize that these four-bowled drinking fountains are the responsibility of the Portland Water Bureau. We maintain 52 bubblers in the Portland area, most of which fall inside downtown boundaries. In fact, in the 1970's the Simon Benson family asked that the we abstain from installing Benson Bubblers anywhere outside of downtown as to not dilute their uniqueness.

We hear a lot from community groups who appreciate the drinking water that the bubblers provide not only to thirsty Portlanders, but also to our homeless community. I am willing to bet that Simon Benson, who donated money for the first 20 bubblers after seeing a little girl crying at a parade because she couldn't find a drink of water, would be proud to see what a symbol of public service his fountains have become to our city.

One interesting fact I've always enjoyed about the bubblers is that there are two Benson Bubblers who "live" well outside of Portland. One, a gift to a sister city, resides in Saporro Japan. The other lives at the Maryhill Museum of Art in the Columbia River Gorge. Simon Benson was good friends with Sam Hill... and the rest is history. Seeing as how a trip to Saporro is not anywhere in my immediate future, I stopped to check out the Maryhill Museum Benson Bubbler on my way home over Memorial Day weekend.

It goes without saying that unless that Saporro Benson Bubbler lives in an unimaginably fantastic setting, the Maryhill Benson has the best view of them all! One interesting note about the Maryhill Benson is that it has been retrofitted with push buttons. We tried that for awhile here in Portland but had two problems: the community hated the look and complained, and metal thieves pilfered the buttons with such expediency that it became nearly impossible to keep them all working. Eventually, we had to remove the push buttons. However, other conservation efforts have been made over the past several years to maintain the balance between community need and water conservation.

Here are some photos of the Maryhill Benson Bubbler. Enjoy!

The Benson Bubbler at the Maryhill Museum of Art has the best view of them all!








This Benson Bubbler has been fitted with push buttons - the Water Bureau tried to do that for in-town Bubblers but the effort was unsuccessful.















Two Benson Bubblers can be found outside of Portland ... one is at the Maryhill Museum of Art.

















Jennie Day-Burget


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June 8, 2010 at 10:20 AM

I believe you meant "Sam Hill" (as in, "what in the sam hill?!"). I assume the house/museum is named Maryhill after Sam's wife, Mary.


Jeff Guard

June 8, 2010 at 12:05 PM

Correct on Maryhill being names after Sam's wife, although allegedly she never spent one night in the house. Better bubbling to the east these days at the Marygill Winery!

Sam was also known as the leader and brains behind the Gorge scenic highway and the Stonehenge Memorial just east of the winery, as well as building a couple other houses for other "lady friends" in the Gorge.


Anonymous User

July 9, 2010 at 7:21 PM

It was just a 12"water main break.
For us here at the bureau this is no big deal.
We handle events like this as if it is just part of our normal work.
But this one wasn't
Before the first strokes were taken there were at least 3Water Bureau Engineers,2 Managers and the Bureau Chief on hand to assist, advise, and otherwise to preform their duties.
I would like to thank the states traffic control people for a fine job. But I am left wondering why and where the state inspectors or engineers were as we moved from the main repair to the street restoration? I hear we had to do some
work over.

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