Fountain in Memory of Thomas Swope
The Thomas H. Swope Fountain was built to honor a man that had a huge impact on the development of Kansas City. Colonel Thomas H. Swope, a successful land developer, made many charitable donations to the city, and helped to create the city that exists today.
Swope invested in the land as soon as he moved to Kansas City in 1857. His success in buying and selling the land, led to his first donation of land to the city for a hospital. In 1896 he donated 1,334 acres of land, along Blue River, with the intent of creating a farm. Named Swope Park, there was actually a city holiday declared. A zoo and a golf course would be created on this land.
Swope had never married, and lived in a mansion, along with several members of his extended family. In 1909, he and several members of his family died under mysterious circumstances. It was later found that Swope’s doctor, also his niece’s husband, was tried and convicted for poisoning the family. The conviction was overturned, and the death currently remains unsolved.
Swope wanted to be buried in Swope Park, and it would not be until 1918 that the memorial was completed. The memorial was designed and created by the Wight and Wight architectural firm, but the landscaper George Kessler. The memorial cost $44,000, and was raised through a $20,000 donation from his heirs, and $1 contributions made from many donors.
Swope was buried under a stone slab in the center of the terrace of his memorial. A relief of his face hangs on a wall inside of the mausoleum. The memorial is a tribute to the Greek temples with granite columns. It features two detailed lions on either side of the memorial. The memorial can be seen from the entrance of the park, and sits on the highest point. The water fountain sits on the lower terrace portion of the memorial.
The fountain was dedicated in 1922, a simple structure, featuring a stone bowl with water pouring into a basin. This fountain is a gentle fountain, unlike many of the loud and fast moving fountains located in other parts of the city. The idea behind the fountain was to mimic the gentleness of nature. This fountain was names, in 2005, as one of the ten “Fountains to Note” in the city.