Blake’s Guide to Fountains in Kansas City
What is Fountain Day you ask? Well, it’s that wonderful day of the year where Kansas City, Missouri turns on its 48 beautiful public fountains. Kansas City features some truly remarkable water fountains and those fountains offer wonderful spots to stop on a walk or settle down for a picnic.
In preparation for this year’s Fountain Day, we’ve put together a list of the top 20 fountains to visit in Kansas City. Check out one or two this spring or make a full day out of it and visit all 20!
J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain
One of Kansas City’s most recognizable fountains, J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain, is located east of the Country Club Plaza and is a must-see for anyone interested in visiting the best fountains in town. Sculpted in 1910 by Henri-Léon Gréber and installed in 1960, this fountain features four horsemen representing the four mighty rivers of the world: the Mississippi River, the Volga River, the Seine, and the Rhine. The horsemen representing the Mississippi River is accompanied by an alligator and the Volga River horsemen is accompanied by a bear.
Another fountain found while strolling the Kansas City Plaza is the Neptune Fountain located on 47th Street and Wornall Rd. Miler Nichols, the son of J.C. Nichols, originally purchased the cast lead fountain for its weight in scrap metal (8,000 pounds!). The fountain was first created in 1911 by the Bromsgrove Guild, in Worcestershire, England. The fountain found its home on the Plaza in 1953.
Seville Light Fountain
Installed in 1967, the Seville Light Fountain is another Plaza fixture located just one street away from the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain. Located on its own traffic island, this fountain has four faces that water flow from. The fountain itself is quite a work of art, crafted from a variety of marbles. The designer, Bernard Zuckerman, was commissioned to create the fountain with the direction to create an exact replica of the Plaza de Los Reyes fountain in Seville, Spain.
William Volker Memorial Fountain
Continuing around the Plaza area, just down the street from the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain, you’ll find the William Volker Memorial Fountain. The fountain, created by Carl Miles, was first placed in Frank A. Theis Park located just across Brush Creek. In 1990, the fountain was moved to its current location on Volker Boulevard. The fountain features an equestrian figure of St. Martin of Tours used to memorialize William Volker. Volker was a prominent philanthropist in Kansas City who helped establish UMKC and Research Hospital.
Meyer Circle Sea Horse Fountain
Encompassed by a roundabout along Ward Parkway, the Meyer Circle Sea Horse Fountain’s statue portion weighs over 16,00 pounds. It originally stood in a Venetian square for 300 years, before being bought and relocated in the 1920s. The top tier features a child with a fish, while the three mythological seahorses sit atop the stone pyramid potion of the fountain. The seahorses hold a saucer that fills with water, spouted by craved lion heads. The tier above the first saucer has three cherubs holding another saucer.
American War Mothers Memorial Fountain
Simplistic in design, but deep in meaning, the American War Mothers Memorial Fountain stands tall along The Paseo at Meyer Blvd. Installed in 1942, the fountain was dedicated to those who served in World War I and sits at 18 feet tall. Crafted out of limestone, the obelisk has three metal stars around the top, symbolizing those who died, those who were injured, and those who returned uninjured.
Vietnam Veteran’ Memorial Fountain
Traveling North from the Plaza, fountain-lowers can take a moment to remember Vietnam Veterans at the breathtaking memorial fountain. The fountain, consisting of five inter-connected pools of different sizes, represents America’s growing involvement in the war. Designed by David M. Baker, the fountain was dedicated in 1986.
Laura Conyers Smith Fountain
South of the Plaza, located in the serene Laura Conyers Smith Municipal Rose Garden at Loose Park, you will find the Laura Conyers Smith Fountain. The Kansas City Rose Society raised funds for the creation of a new fountain in 2001. The original fountain was donated in memory of Florence L. Nelson and featured a central water feature and surrounding steel poles with water sprays that represented flowers and blossoms. Both the garden and fountain provide backgrounds for many engagement and prom photo shoots.
Loose Park Wall Fountains
Located in Loose Park, just a short walk from the Laura Conyers Smith Fountain, you can find the Loose Park Wall Fountains of a man and a woman. The sculptures have been nicknamed “Lady & Gent” or “Adam & Eve” but the original work doesn’t have a name. The artist, Jeanette Pelzerman Klein, moved to Kansas City in the early 1900s from Poland and was selected in 1942 to create a fountain for the park. The two large figures of clay were installed in 1942 and replaced in 1946 with stronger versions made out of cast concrete with marble aggregate.
Eagle Scout Memorial Fountain
Scout’s honor, you’ll want to make a stop at this beautiful memorial to Eagle Scouts located along Gillham Road. Dedicated in 1968, this marble monument sits at 22 ft. tall and is framed by two spiral concrete stairways. Above the fountain pool, you’ll find a wreath bored by women on both sides and an eagle.
Ilus W. Davis Fountain
Fountains aren’t just reserved for Kansas City parks either! The Ilus W. Davis Fountain, installed in 2001, sits in between the U.S. District Courthouse and City Hall. Named after Kansas City’s mayor in the 1960s, this small fountain flows to the large reflecting pool. With green spaces between the two water features in the park, this spot is a great place to lay out a blanket for a picnic.
William T. and Charlotte Crosby Kemper Memorial Fountain
Located just off Main Street, by the Kansas City Public Library downtown, the William T. and Charlotte Crosby Kemper Memorial Fountain was inspired by the ancient stone bowl sitting in the Rozelle Court in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Designed by Lori Doolittle and Alvin Holm, the fountain takes from the architectural design on the exterior of the Commerce Trust Building and is made out of bronze with a granite base.
David Woods Kemper Memorial Fountain
Continuing down Main Street, you’ll find the David Woods Kemper Memorial Fountain. Designed by Wheeler Williams and dedicated in 1962, this fountain was presented to the city by the Kemper’s in honor of their son Lt. David Kemper who was killed in action in World War II. The bronze sculpture features a Greek goddess holding a net that is spilling fish.
Henry Wollman Bloch Fountain
This expansive fountain featuring 232 jets is located directly outside the front of Kansas City’s historic Union Station. The fountain was gifted to the city in the name of H&R Bloch Co-founder Henry Wollman Bloch. Installed in 2001, the fountain was designed by WET Design. WET Design are the same designers who created the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas, Nevada, and The Waters of Olympic Park in Sochi, Russia.
Liberty Memorial South Fountain
In front of the entrance to the National World War I Museum, you’ll find the Liberty Memorial South Fountain. Opened in 2002 and rehabilitated from 2011-2014, this fountain is constructed out of black granite and Indiana limestone. The three-tiered fountain features an oval reflecting pool that water from the other tiers flow into.
Liberty Memorial North Fountain
Located on the other side of the memorial is the Liberty Memorial North Fountain. The duel fountains were part of the original building plans for the memorial and were constructed by Kansas City architects Wight and Wight in 1934-1935. The fountains two tiers were constructed with Indiana limestone and glazed porcelain tiles.
Firefighters Fountain and Memorial
Traveling South from Liberty Memorial, you can make a stop at the Firefighters Fountain and Memorial of West 31st Street. Installed in 1991, this fountain features two bronze firefighter figures encircled by 48 streams of water. In 2015, the fountain was renovated to correct fallen firefighters’ names on the memorial.
Designed to celebrate children and modeled after actual Kansas City children, the Children’s Fountain is located in North Kansas City. Larkin Aquatics designed this fountain, which was completed in 1995. The six bronze children in the water feature are 8 to 9 feet tall.
Carl J. Dicapo Fountain
Named after Park Commissioner Carl Dicapo and located in Kessler Park, this fountain composed of natural rock was constructed to draw attention to a natural spring. Residents of the northeast area once used the natural spring as their water supply in the 1800s and early 1900s. While you may come to Kessler Park the fountain, you’ll want to stay for the 8 mile Kessler Park Trail.
Shirley Bush Helzberg Fountain
Located just inside Swope Park’s Starlight Theater is the Shirley Bush Helzberg Fountain. Winding along a garden and gazebo, this fountain has ten water cascades that run between brick columns. The owners of Helzberg Jewelers, Barnett and Shirley Helzberg donated $1 towards the completion of the feature. Shirley Helzberg was the Starlight Theater Association President from 1991-1994.