When Palos Verdes Estates became a city nearly 60 years ago after a close incorporation election, the victors were said to have danced around the landmark Neptune Fountain at Malaga Cove Plaza.
Now, residents in the seaside community have another reason to do a celebration dance: They have finally raised enough money to restore the aging fountain and give the surrounding outdoor plaza a face-lift.
The 19th-century white marble fountain in the center of the plaza is a copy of the famous bronze Neptune fountain in Bologna, Italy. The three-tier replica, by an unknown Italian artist who worked near Bologna, is decorated with dolphins, Nereids, seashells and children's faces. It is topped by the heroic figure of Neptune, the mythological god of the sea, who looks out at the ocean.
The fountain was part of an old villa in Venice, Italy, for more than a century before it was donated to the tony city in 1930 by the Palos Verdes Project. The land company had developed a master plan for four neighborhoods (Malaga Cove, Lunada Bay, Miraleste and Valmonte) that were to be built around the Spanish Colonial Revival-style plaza in the center of Palos Verdes Estates.
Over the years, the fountain has been vandalized, the trees have died and the concrete base under the Neptune statue has cracked. Resident Morynne Motley formed the Malaga Cove Plaza Beautification Project in 1987 to restore the historic area.
The group's nearly decade- long fund- raising effort 10 years ago, with the approval of City Hall, has raised nearly $225,000 for the project. The group held garage sales, solicited donations and sold bricks in the new plaza walkway for $400 and kawakami pear trees for $2,500.
"The plaza is the heart of the original development here," said local historian Paqt Ackerman. It is very elegant and sets the tone for the entire community."