History of the City of Fountains Foundation
The City of Fountains Foundation was established in 1973 by Hallmark executive Harold Rice and his wife Peggy. While on a trip to Rome, Italy, the Rices noticed that many of Rome's fountains were not working and in disrepair and decided they did not want the same to happen in their home city of Kansas City.
The foundation was organized as a not-for-profit corporation with a goal of raising funds to construct new fountains, manage trust funds to cover maintenance costs, and increase awareness of the importance of Kansas City’s fountains. The Kansas City, MO City Council endorsed the foundation in a resolution passed in March 1974. The Board of Directors for the City of Fountains Foundation work in partnership with the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department to operate and maintain Kansas City Missouri’s 47 publicly-owned fountains.
For information and histories about specific fountains and sculptures, please click the appropriate tab from the menu.
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A Brief History of Kansas City Fountains
The first fountains in Kansas City were for horses, birds and dogs serving a practical purpose. In 1883 the Humane Society of Kansas City was established to prevent cruelty to women, children and animals. In 1904 they built Kansas City's first fountain near the west end of the intercity viaduct, 3rd and Minnesota. It has a large square pedestal with 4 small pools for dogs to drink from at street level and a 4' diameter granite basin at a height for horses to drink. The water came out of spigots in lions' mouths into this taller bowl so people could get clean water in their cups. The overflow went into the street level basins for the dogs. There was a street light on top. It was moved to 18th & Parallel and finally in 1967 given to the Wyandotte County Museum.
The Society placed a variety of these fountain basins around the city. Over 100 people were present in 1910 for the dedication of the Frank Faxon Fountain at 40th & Main. Four hundred dollars was raised by the women members of the Society for this bronze fountain, specially designed to be sanitary and to prevent the spread of any contagious diseases among horses. Mr. Faxon was a prosperous merchant and civic leader and had been president of the Humane Society. In 1889 he coined the slogan "make Kansas City a good place to live" for the Commercial Club, the forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce.
The city began putting up drinking fountains for people around the turn of the century, mostly in the downtown area.
The first municipally-built fountain was at 15th & Paseo in 1899. This $12,000 fountain was designed by George Kessler. Mr. Kessler had been hired as landscape architect by Kansas City's first park board to develop a master plan for our park and boulevard system. About this same time plans for a second fountain at 9th & Paseo were begun. Though the fountain at 15th street was destroyed in 1941, the fountain at 9th street, The Women's Leadership Fountain, still exists.