Main Street Fountain Destroyed In Late Night Hit And Run

Jason Graziadei •

The Main Street fountain, a landmark of downtown Nantucket, was destroyed late Sunday night by a pickup truck that smashed into it at high speed and fled the scene.

The incident occurred just after 10:30 p.m. when a white Chevy Silverado struck the fountain head-on, leaving the heavy steel structure in pieces on the cobblestones. Some parts of the fountain were strewn nearly to The Hub and the intersection with Federal Street, nearly 30 yards away.

The driver of the truck fled the area, and Nantucket police and firefighters soon converged on the scene and began an investigation.

Just after midnight, the truck was located by police in the parking area behind Holdgate's Island Laundry on Vesper Lane, and a suspect was taken into custody.

Michael K. Holdgate, 55, of Nantucket was arraigned Monday morning in Nantucket District Court on charges of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol (second offense) and negligent operation of a motor vehicle. Holdgate is the owner of Holdgate's Island Laundry. He had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf and was ordered to return to court November 20th for a pretrial hearing. Read more about the arraignment and allegations outlined in a police report obtained by the Current.

The Main Street fountain dates back to 1885, and the monument is dedicated to the memory of Lieutenant Max Wagner, according to the Nantucket Historical Association. Wagner moved to Nantucket in 1890 and married Jennie Macy, a descendant of the very first of the English founding families on the island. He died fighting in the Spanish-American War in 1900, and the fountain, along with the entire lower end of Main Street, was dedicated to his memory in 1932.

It marks the second time in less than four years that the fountain has been toppled by a motor vehicle. The last incident occurred in March 2020, just before the start of the pandemic, when a driver who said the glare of the sun caused them to become disoriented struck the fountain and knocked it over. It was repaired by Cassidy Bros. Forge in Rowley, Mass., and just over a year later, it was returned to its rightful spot on Main Street with a new paint job. 

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Photo by Jason Graziadei
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According to the NHA, "The monument in the square is a repurposed drinking fountain that was anonymously donated to the town in 1885. It was originally located up at the top of the square. The lower basin was for horses to drink from, and there are spigots above that provided streams of fresh water for thirsty pedestrians. When it was moved downhill, it was disconnected from the water main that enters Main Street from Centre Street in front of the Methodist Church and the Pacific Bank."

Several times each year, the fountain is decorated by the members of the Nantucket Garden Club in keeping with the seasons and island events.

"We are heartbroken but Nantucketeers are strong and resilient and will rebuild," the Garden Club stated in an Instagram post Monday morning. "Autumn is a time of reflection. Nantucket is a small island that has survived great fires, the depression, world wars but always manages to retain its underlying philosophy of courage and community. Today is a sad day for the island but we will rebuild and restore as we have for centuries."

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

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