Brand Guild Co-Founder Renovates ‘Beeler Fountain’ at Glen Echo

When Barbara Martin learned her college roommate Stephanie Beeler, a longtime employee of the National Park Service and U.S. Geological Survey, had a grim cancer diagnosis, she channeled her energy into doing some good.

Martin, co-founder and co-CEO of the PR, marketing, events and creative agency the Brand Guild, wandered into a back corner of Glen Echo Park, off MacArthur Boulevard in Maryland. It was there she found what she called a “crumbling fountain overgrown with weeds.” She started digging and filling it with flowers. It doesn’t have an official name, so she dubbed it “Beeler Fountain.”

She soon discovered more about the fountain. It was originally built in 1959 as part of a short-lived miniature golf course on the park’s grounds. With the exception of some pathways and another fountain, fully buried in the brush, “Beeler Fountain” is the only bit that remains.

“It has remained largely untouched since the park closed in 1968 and, according to the National Park Service’s own assessments, it has ‘no historic value,’ ” Martin said. “I disagree and think it’s beautiful.”

Martin decided to use the fountain’s progress as a way to keep her friend entertained as she underwent cancer treatment. Unfortunately, Beeler passed away in July of this year. Martin chose to turn her grief into something positive. For her 50th birthday project, she wholly embraced fixing up the fountain.

After Martin rounded up a group of friends she dubbed the Secret Magic Garden Society to help, they got to work. In the group were her business partner at the Brand Guild, Jayne Sandman, who Martin called “her rock” and “incredibly supportive throughout.” There were also Georgetowners like Annie Groer, who donated offshoots from iris bulbs first planted around the time the fountain was built to writer Cathy Alter. Alter and Martin have a standing picnic appointment at the fountain to brainstorm ideas.

In a perfect coincidence, Martin’s 50th is tomorrow, Dec. 1, which is Giving Tuesday. For those unfamiliar, Giving Tuesday is a global movement in the spirit of generosity that hopes to inspire people to give to organizations and communities. Partnering with the Glen Echo Partnership for Arts and Culture, Martin is aiming to raise $25,000 to renovate the grounds surrounding the fountain and stabilize the fountain’s structure. As of press time, she is halfway there.

Martin is planning on being at the fountain tomorrow for a part of the day, doing some final weeding before winter. “I’ll most likely be drinking a Bloody Mary while listening to Hall & Oates — because 50,” she said.

Photo by Barbara Martin.


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