Walnut Room fountain will flow for first time in 125 years

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015
The fountain in the Walnut Room.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The fountain in Macy's Walnut Room will turn on for the first time in decades this weekend, Crain's Chicago reports.

The fountain has not flowed in any way since 1998 out of fear that it would leak and ruin the Tiffany ceiling, designed by Louis Sullivan, underneath. Sullivan's ceiling was built in 1907, made of 1.6 million pieces of favrile glass. It is the largest mosaic of its kind.

The decision to turn the fountain on was made in honor of the 125th anniversary of the department store serving food. The store, originally Marshall Field's, opened a tea room in 1890 to serve pot pies and tea. In 1907, Marshall Field's opened the Walnut Room, which is the longest continuously-running restaurant in the country according to Andrea Schwartz, Macy's director of media relations, where they still serve the chicken pot pie.

The Walnut Room has always had a fountain, but store executives are not sure whether the current fountain is the original.

The fountain was taken off site in pieces and restored at Chicago Fountain. The work went beyond cosmetic repair to ensure pieces were waterproofed and that wiring and plumbing were restored.

Schwartz said the parts that run the fountain are now underneath it, and on a floor separating it from the Tiffany ceiling.

The fountain will be turned on at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday, May 16. Shoppers who spend $100 or more in Macy's State Street Home section this week will get two tickets for lunch in the Walnut Room on Saturday.