August R. Meyer leaves legacy as parks pioneer

Posted September 5, 2012 at 2:03 pm

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September 5, 2012

Dedicated on June 2, 1909, the August R. Meyer Memorial at 10th and The Paseo is the first memorial to be placed in a Kansas City park. The monument was placed four years after Meyer’s death at the age of 54.

This postcard published by the Southwest News Company of Kansas City, Mo., shows the new memorial from a vantage point on 10th Street. Built of Indiana buff limestone, the imposing memorial stands nearly 30 feet tall and measures close to 12 feet wide.

In the pedestal beneath the bronze frieze showing Meyer standing under a mighty oak with a set of binoculars and reviewing a set of blueprints, the following is carved: “In memory of August R. Meyer, first President of the Parks Commission of Kansas City. Horses and shops are man’s, but grass and flowers are God’s own handiwork. Undaunted, this man planned and toiled that dwellers in this place might ever freely taste the sweet delights of nature.”

The commission for the sculpting was given to eminent American sculptor Daniel French.

Meyer was born in St. Louis, Mo., to German immigrant parents in 1851. Educated in Europe, he moved to Kansas City in 1881 after a successful Colorado mining partnership with H.W. Tabor of the “Baby-Doe” mine. Meyer opened a smelting plant in the Argentine district that eventually employed more than 1,000 men.

Named president of the then-fledgling Kansas City Parks Commission in 1898, it was Meyer who sought out the services of noted landscape architect George Kessler to design Kansas City’s parks and boulevards system.

Meyer’s 26-room mansion located at 44th and Warwick was purchased by Howard Vanderslice after Meyer’s death and is now part of the Kansas City Art Institute.