Seahorse Fountain (Meyer Circle)
The Seahorse Fountain, also known as the Meyer Circle Fountain, is among Kansas City’s older fountains. It is also one of the most well known, residing on the busy intersection of Meyer Boulevard and Ward Parkway.
As with much of the early city planning in Kansas City, a fountain was seen as an important feature of the boulevard. J.C. Nichols was a developer who made many important contributions to the growth of Kansas City and designed some of its most prominent features. He not only donated the money for the outdoor fountain to the city, he also had an important hand in the construction of the Seahorse Fountain.
Nichols found the center sculpture for the water fountain in a square in Venice, Italy. It had stood there for over 300 years. Nichols bought the sculpture and had it sent to Kansas City. Architect Edward Buehler Delk took the 17th century sculpture and incorporated it into a design for a fountain. Delk was a student of Greek and Roman architecture who at that time worked for the J.C. Nichols Company. After working for the Nichols Company, he also worked with Frank Lloyd Wright on two Kansas City buildings. His designs can be seen in many buildings throughout Kansas City.
The Seahorse Fountain was completed in 1925. The fountain consists of a two-tiered bowl that is held up by three cherubs, a dolphin and the three seahorses that give the fountain its popular name. These figures rest on a larger limestone base which is situated in a larger basin. A child and dolphin top the bowl, which is made from Italian marble. Including the limestone base, the water fountain stands 16 feet high.
Throughout the years, the Seahorse Fountain has been vandalized and repaired a number of times. It was also severely damaged by a car crash. In 1994, a renovation of the traffic circle was planned and the figures that hold up the bowls were found to have deteriorated beyond repair. The figures were recast in sandstone and replaced. In 2000, the fountain was damaged again when the child on top of the fountain was broken off in an act of vandalism. A stone craftsman from St. Louis restored the damaged sculpture at no charge, a donation which was estimated at $100,000.
In spite of the repeated damage that has been done to it, the outdoor fountain remains a noted landmark situated in a beautiful residential area of the city. The fountain is considered one of the city’s most elaborate, with its heavy Roman influence. The overall affect of the design is of a mythical scene viewed from between delicate sprays of water and mist.