In 1973, the Nebraska Retired Teachers Association (NRTA) embarked on an effort to commemorate the nation’s Bicentennial with a goal to make a lasting and meaningful contribution to the city. In collaboration with the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department, the decision was made to raise money to build a fountain.
Fundraising efforts were creative and widespread, including door-to-door canvassing, public events, and Table Festivals hosted by prominent Lincolnites, such as then Mayor Helen Boosalis, Senator Shirley Marsh, and Patricia Exon, First Lady of Nebraska. Donations from the Lincoln Foundation and the Nebraska American Revolution Bicentennial Commission also helped in the NRTA’s efforts.
By February of 1977, arrangements were finalized to begin construction for the Cascade Fountain. It was a triumph on part of the NRTA, who had taken the fountain on as a special bicentennial project. A projected date of completion for the fountain was set on October 1, 1977.
What the hopeful city and retired teachers did not see coming were roadblocks upon roadblocks between their dream and their reality.
From the start, the initial construction of the fountain was behind schedule. A construction workers’ strike completely halted production throughout most of the summer. By the end of August, only around a month before the projected completion date, the Cascade Fountain was only 65 percent complete. Parks and Recreation Director Don Smith officially announced that the Cascade Fountain would now be completed two weeks after the original October 1 completion date.
Finally, in the summer of 1978, the Bicentennial Cascade Fountain, located at S. 27th Street and Capitol Parkway, was completed and dedicated to retired teachers throughout Nebraska.