Fountain for Philanthropist William Volker
This playful and intricate fountain is an honor to philanthropist William Volker. A whimsical piece, it is a favorite fountain in Kansas City!
Born in Germany, William Volker came to an affluent family. The family came to Chicago in his early teens, and he started to work for a framing company at 17, taking it over at age 20. Volker moved the business to Kansas City to retain an easier supply of wood, and a less competitive market. The Volker Company also expanded its business to include window shades and linoleum, allowing it to grow into a nationally recognized company.
Volker remained a bachelor until he was 52, stating he would leave his wife one million dollars, and give the rest away. He spent the next 36 years giving away an estimated 10 million dollars. Donating heavily to charities and causes in Kansas City, most of his donations were made anonymously. He earned the moniker of “Mr. Anonymous” as a result.
The Memorial fountain was designed by a Swedish artist named Carl Milles. At the center of the fountain is St. Martin of Tours, a patron Saint of France. The story of St. Martin is that he encountered Jesus as a beggar on a freezing day, and gave him half of his own cloak. He is the patron saint of generosity. The sculpture in the fountain was named “St. Martin and the Beggar”; his generosity was a fitting tribute to the generosity of Kansas City’s own philanthropist.
This fountain features many whimsical and amusing angels. One such angel is playing a flute from the wrong end, while another has a watch carved into it. There are four angels surrounding St. Martin, mounted on a horse. Three of the angels are seated below him, while the flute playing cherub is on a pedestal above the saint. All of the figures are sitting in a large reflection pool, where water sprays from two pools located next to the main pool.
The fountain was moved from its originally location on Brush Creek which needed renovation, being moved closer to Volker Boulevard.