Historic elk statue to return to downtown Portland in 2024

The bronze statue atop the Thompson Elk Fountain was donated in 1900 by Portland Mayor David Thompson and once served as a watering hole for visitors and their horses.

A bronze statue in the shape of a bull elk with large antlers stands atop a white granite fountain surrounded by city buildings and trees.

The statue was intended to commemorate the elk herds that once roamed the Willamette Valley in large numbers.

Photo by Cacophony

Downtown Portland’s iconic elk statue is expected to return to its home sometime next year.

The statue that crowned the Thompson Elk Fountain on Southwest Main between Third and Fourth avenues was removed three years ago after being damaged during the 2020 protests. Cracks in the granite base sparked safety concerns, so the city hauled off the entire monument.

A restoration project, spearheaded by the Portland Parks Foundation, is now underway. Funded by $1.5 million from the city and an additional $160,000 from 65 donors, the project will return the fountain and bronze statue to their former glory — and then some. When work is completed, the structure will feature a seismic upgrade (previously, the 3,000-pound elk was weighed down by gravity alone), a recirculating pump to conserve water, and graffiti-resistant coating.

Historic preservation firm Architectural Resources Group started the design process this week. An exact date for the Thompson Elk Fountain’s reinstallation hasn’t been announced.