Norwich - When 76-year-old Russell M. Green gets a project in his head, he takes the role of foreman to make sure everything goes just right and on time.
About 70 people gathered at Norwich Free Academy Monday morning to admire the results of Green's handiwork, generosity and dedication to the school he graduated from in 1955.
The story of Green's project started more than a century earlier, when Dr. Charles H. Osgood moved into the stately home his grandfather had owned since the early 19th century on the corner of Washington and Broad streets. On that front lawn stood an elegant white fountain of a woman with arms raised above her head.
Osgood would become a successful Norwich druggist, industrialist, civic leader and one of the original donors of money and land to establish NFA.
The fountain stood at the Osgood home until 1957, when Green's father, Milton Green, admired it and purchased it from those who had bought the former Osgood home and converted it into apartments.
The fountain was moved to Green's home on Lincoln Park Road in Preston. There, the water spouted from the woman's hands into the bowls beneath her feet for decades longer.
Last year, Green decided he needed to plan for the future. He called NFA to see if the school wanted the fountain that had belonged to one of its founders.
"I'm getting on," Green said after the half-hour ceremony. "When I'm gone, I figured someone would just take it to a scrap yard."
Green didn't just offer the fountain and walk away. He designed the courtyard walkway that would surround it and the lights that would make it shine late into the evenings during warm weather months. He designed the plaque to be placed on a stone at the walkway paying tribute to Osgood, with a photo of the Osgood home.
And NFA Chief Financial Officer Rich Rand admitted, Green got a little testy when Rand's only job - finding the right granite stone to bear the plaque - took a few weeks.
"It's tough keeping up with him," Rand said.
Green also paid the entire undisclosed cost of the project, including piping, wiring for the lights, installing the sidewalk and placing the fountain directly in the center.
The granite stone was used as a podium during Monday's dedication ceremony. Green admitted to the crowd that he got a little possessive of the project. He had instructed NFA electricians and plumbers just how it should be set up on timers to turn the water and the lights on and off at certain times.
And he had to see for himself that it was working. He sneaked up to the campus at 10 p.m. to make sure the fountain lights and water were shutting off on time. He waited and waited.
"I thought, 'I should go, because I'm the only one here and the police are going to come,'" he told the crowd Monday. "Then I heard a siren coming up Washington Street. I thought 'oh no.' But it was only an ambulance."
As soon as Monday's ceremony ended, several students quickly approached Green to thank him for the donation and shake his hand. Some were members of the Student Advisory Board getting an early lesson on the long-lasting dedication many alumni feel toward NFA.
"It's really awesome," said junior Sam Trombley of Franklin, a member of the Student Advisory Board. "It makes me want to donate something to NFA when I graduate."