Traffic thunders around Chevy Chase Circle, kicking dust from the road high into the willow oaks and dissuading pedestrians from darting to the circle's hub, a strollers' oasis protected by a hedge of azaleas.

But for many years there hasn't been much reason to go over there, anyway.

The jet fountain and reflecting pool at the circle have been bone dry ever since a speeding car on Connecticut Avenue missed the curve, ran up onto the circle and crashed into the fountain five years ago, cracking its sandstone walls and shattering its base.

A few months ago another car careened into the park's circle of benches, turning them into a contortion of cable and concrete.

Neighbors of the circle, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Chevy Chase last weekend, lamented the status quo.

"The fountain used to be such a joy, a sign of spring every year," said Janice Hargess.

They also got some good news: The great-grandson of the founder of Chevy Chase has volunteered to restore the 60-year-old fountain this summer, and the National Park Service, which oversees the circle, will repair the park benches as well.

Developer Gavin H. Farr now owns the Chevy Chase Lands Co. that was started by his great-grandfather, Sen. Francis G. Newlands. And he says he will restore the fountain to exactly the way it was built -- of the same sandstone that was used for the U.S. Capitol.

"To me that fountain is representative of my great-grandfather," Farr said. "It epitomizes what Chevy Chase is all about."

Newlands, who came to Washington in 1880, three years before Nevada residents elected him to Congress, formed Chevy Chase Lands Co. with profits from his large stake in the 1870s Comstock Gold Lode.

He also bought more than 1,700 acres of farmland straddling the District and Maryland border for his fantasy town. Family members referred to it as "Uncle Frank's Folly," because Newlands never cared if he made any money on it. In fact, say historians, he didn't.

Newlands envisioned his Chevy Chase as a suburban utopia, free of the heat and malaria that plagued low-lying Washington and a place of commodious houses in gracious yards with the most modern utilities. He financed the water and sewer himself as well as the schools and trolley line.

To attract people from the Federal City, Newlands built Connecticut Avenue from Calvert Street to Chevy Chase, placing the circle on the D.C.-Maryland border to unite the two jurisdictions and provide a centerpiece for his new town.

The first use of the circle was as a pasture for a cow owned by Leone E. Dessez, the architect Newlands hired to design houses for his community. Newlands positioned the circle inside the District so Congress would have jurisdiction over it in case it wanted to erect a monument there some day.

As it turned out, the monument would be to Newlands, who served three terms in the U.S. Senate, where, among other things, he pressed for legislation to establish Rock Creek Park.

He built his own mansion on a knoll by the circle, a house that would later become known as the Corby Mansion, after William Corby, a wealthy baker who lived there later. The Tudor-style mansion is now on the market for $2.5 million.

Newlands died in 1917. Fifteen years later, the fountain was built and dedicated to his memory. After this year's refurbishing, park service officials say they will dedicate the circle once again to Newlands.

Work on the fountain will begin in a few weeks, company officials say. The foundain wall will be disassembled and each block numbered before support work begins.

Wall stones that need replacing will be cut from a supply used to repair the Capitol, a gift from the architect of the Capitol. Broken stones will be reinforced with steel. The pool bottom will be rebuilt and sealed. The cost: an estimated $100,000.

"They're planning a first-class job," said Rolland Swain, regional superintendent of the National Park Service. "And it couldn't come at a better time."

Still the question remains whether restoring the fountain and repairing the park benches will draw people to the park as they did before all the traffic. Crosswalks and traffic signals are nowhere in the plans.

On a recent Friday at lunchtime, not one of the dozens of people within a block of the circle bothered to brave the merry-go-round of cars. And at day's end the trash bins were clean and empty.

"I can't remember when I last saw someone out there," said Margaret Dwyer, who has lived across the street from the circle at the Chevy Chase apartments for 40 years. "I never go there, but it's nice just knowing it's there."