The Legend of Pan's Statue

In Cherokee Park in Louisville, the centerpiece of the Hogan Fountain Pavilion is Enid Yandell's statue of the Greek God Pan that stands on top of the fountain. Yandell's bronze sculpture depicts Pan in full Edwardian nursery room fantasy guise, with the body of a young boy and a cherubic face, even his goat's legs and horns seem warm and cuddly as he plays among the four turtles spitting water down into the fountain's cistern. Perhaps because Yandell carved him with such playfulness that the legend began that Pan likes to play, and that on moonless nights he climbs down from the top of the fountain and causes mischief throughout the park.

The statue was dedicated in 1905, built at the request of a Mr. W.J. Hogan of Anchorage, Kentucky. Mr. Hogan was apparently something of an animal lover, as his initial request was for a fountain that dogs and horses could drink from in the park. He also offered to contribute a healthy sum to the fountain's construction.

In an excess of civic zeal now sadly lost in this country, the animal watering hole became the elaborate fountain that now stands at the center of Cherokee park. The late 19th Century was a time of unparalleled excellence in American figurative sculpture, and the artist selected for the work was a Louisville native and a member of a prominent group of female sculptors informally known as the white rabbits. Yandell had already completed the statue of Daniel Boone that also now stands in Cherokee park, and the city was happy to bring this local girl made good home for the new statue.

Perhaps Yandell accidentally gave some wandering spirit a home when she carved and cast the Cherokee Park Pan. Ever since the statue was placed on its pedestal, small bits of mischief have been blamed on Pan. Things like tipped over trash cans, broken water fountains, minor damage to park property, damage to cars, footprints through flowerbeds at night, all of these things and more are attributed to the mischievous statue. The story goes that on moonless night, Pan climbs down from the fountain and runs around the park making a nuisance of himself.

Whether or not you happen to catch him running around, the statue of Pan, and indeed all of Cherokee park is well wort a visit. But if you plan to park overnight near the park and it's a new moon, you may want to throw a few coins in the fountain and ask Pan not to scratch the paint.

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