The fountain was authorized in October 1952 as a memorial to alumnae on the 50th anniversary of the founding of Lambda chapter at KU. Students, alumni and friends donated about $5,000 to the construction fund; the balance of the $11,800 cost was contributed by KU Endowment’s Elizabeth M. Watkins Fund.
James L. Bass, then a student of professor and sculptor Elden C. Tefft, won a competition to design plaques embodying aspects of the Eleusinian myth that were to surround the octagonal tank: an owl; the figure of Hades; a pomegranate; Persephone and Hades; wheat; Demeter and Persephone; carnations; and a gift plaque.
The Indiana limestone fountain is based on one at a manor in Northumberland, England; the pool is 12 feet in diameter, and three spigots spill water into a bowl mounted on the 7-foot shaft above the octagonal tank. It was fabricated by Erkins Studios of New York and dedicated April 23, 1955.