Kansas City - Two States, Two Stories
It's taken us years to unravel the mystery of the fountains given to Kansas City. We had indications that there were three fountains given to Kansas City, but the question was which Kansas City - the one in Kansas or the one in Missouri received them! We've finally determined with a lot of help that though three fountains were promised, only two were ever delivered and each Kansas City received one.
We had pretty much nailed down the one in Kansas some time ago and documented both its early history and current location at the Wynadotte County Museum which you can find here. We do need to mention that the original plaque has been replaced with the one below, but the 1904 date is assumed to be incorrect.
The story in Missouri turns out to be a bit more complicated. We had found evidence of two fountains being given to Kansas City, MO without locating any pictures though we had indications that one was erected at Broadway & West Fourth St. Thanks to Brittany Luna who was doing research of her own and found our Facebook page where she shared some of her own work, we now know that Kansas City, MO was promised two fountains, but through their own carelessness, they never did get the second one. They received the first fountain in 1910 and installed it at Fourth and Broadway, but things did not go quite as planned. City officials determined that the fountain was the cause of the spread of the infectious disease glanders among horses using the fountain. They further determined that poor drainage around the fountain caused icing conditions that also contributed to injuries to the horses slipping on the ice. Their solution was to turn off the water!
Of course, that meant they were breaking their agreement with the National Humane Alliance to maintain the fountain and Lewis Seaver from the Alliance showed up to inspect the fountain and as you can see below, he was not very happy!.
The Alliance did not take away the fountain, but they also did not provide the second one as originally promised.
So what happened to the Missouri fountain? Ms. Luna found evidence that an activist group removed the fountain and dumped it into an overgrown area of Swope Park.
She also found evidence that it was later moved to a rose garden at St. Joseph Hospital and when the hospital was demolished in 1980, the fountain was donated to an apartment complex where it stands to this day, albeit with some pretty significant changes as you can see in this picture:
Evidence from a booklet about fountains in Kansas City suggests that the owners of the apartment complex placed the cherubic figurine on top of the fountain where the original top piece with the lions head spigots were originally located. If you look closely, you can see that at some point holes were also drilled through the bowl so water can no longer collect in the bowl.
So the good news is that each Kansas City received a fountain and to this day they still exist - though modified and no longer working as fountains, but there is always hope!