June 27, 2016
TWO PHOTOS OF PEOPLE STANDING IN FRONT OF THE JAMES SCOTT MEMORIAL FOUNTAIN AT BELLE ISLE, 1937
Does it matter that the glorious white marble fountain bedecking Belle Isle's crown was born of the rare beneficience of a scoundrel? It did to the moral factions of the church elders of Detroit in the 1910s. And J. L. Hudson himself, who said of a proposed fountain and monument to James Scott--playboy, rapscallion and hell-raiser extraordinaire-- “Mr. Scott never did anything for Detroit in his lifetime and he never had a thought that was good for the city.”
But after years of debate the city of Detroit, under Mayor Breitmeyer, determined that the bequeathed fortune was too great a gift to the citizens to refuse on moral grounds. So the grand monument was erected in 1925. It remains today though some refurbishment has been necessary to maintain the structure.
On the day when Dustin Hoffman was born, August 8, 1937, in the waning years of the Great Depression, these presumed Detroiters were dressed in their Sunday best. And with good reason because it was indeed the first day of the week. All while James Scott watched from his perch eternally dreaming of mischief.