Bicentennial Fire Hydrants
of South Bend, Indiana

Although contrary to National Fire Protection Association hydrant color guidelines, many communities in the United States decided to paint their fire hydrants in a bicentennial theme just prior to the year 1976. The small city of Richland Center, Wisconsin, for instance, painted all their hydrants in the red, white, and blue colors of the United States flag. Other communities dressed their hydrants up as historic figures from the Revolutionary War. Most cities quietly allowed their decorated hydrants to revert back, as in the case of Baltimore, Maryland.

South Bend, Indiana is a different story. In this city, the bicentennial tradition of hydrant decoration continues today as a matter of community pride. In the words of Nicole Seall, Event Coordinator with the city's office of Community Affairs:

hydrant decorated as Israel Bissel

"South Bend's Fire Hydrant Painting Project started with the City's Bicentennial Celebration in 1976. Mrs. Ruth Von Karowsky, a local artist, pursued the project after seeing an example in another U.S. city. All of the designs were drawn by Mrs. Von Karowsky and are based on uniforms worn by soldiers in the American Revolution. South Bend received national coverage for the project."

" In 1987 this project was revived for the Bicentennial of our Constitution. Now after, 15 years, the soldiers either need to be touched up or redone. The City believes the Fire Hydrant Painting Project is a great way to celebrate history and keep our fireplugs looking sharp."

Shown are a few examples of hydrants recently painted
by the citizens of South Bend.  All photos © 2002 Nicole Seall

hydrant decorated as Abraham Whipplehydrant decorated as John Paul Joneshydrant decorated as Alexander Hamilton

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Unless otherwise noted, all contents of these WWW pages © 1996-2002, Ethan Kennedy