Cheers to Temperance: Exploring one of DC’s most obscure monuments with a boozy backstory

D.C. is a town of monuments — and some of them are hiding in plain sight.

In this week’s edition of “Matt About Town,” WTOP’s Matt Kaufax decided to learn the fascinating, alcohol-infused backstory behind a lesser-known statue located in Penn Quarter: the Temperance Fountain.

The fountain, built in 1882, was designed to provide people living in the District with drinking water in an effort to get them to stop the consumption of alcohol. It was built during the Temperance Movement years before Prohibition but had the same overall message that booze is bad.

But that didn’t stop the people from cracking open some cold ones! And, as Matt found out, the drama behind this obscure monument ran deeper than a fight over beer and spirits.

If you’ve got an idea for an obscure monument you think Matt should feature, reach out to him or WTOP on social media: @wtop (Instagram, TikTok, X, YouTube, etc.), @mkaufax (Instagram) or @matt.kaufax (TikTok). 

You can also send WTOP an email via the “contact us” page on the WTOP website. Simply fill out the form to send us your idea! 

Matt Kaufax

If there's an off-the-beaten-path type of attraction, person, or phenomenon in the DC area that you think more people should know about, Matt is your guy. As the features reporter for WTOP, he's always on the hunt for stories that provide a unique local flavor—a slice of life if you will.

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