Harold D. Rice – “One New Fountain a Year” Champion

Published by Lori Ventura on

Harold Rice Memorial Fountain

Harold Rice Memorial Fountain

Kansas City, often hailed as the “City of Fountains,” boasts a remarkable heritage of over 200 fountains, second only to Rome in sheer number. This impressive legacy traces back to the visionary planning of August Meyer, William Rockhill Nelson, and landscape architect George Kessler in the late 19th century. Inspired by European city planning and the City Beautiful Movement, Kessler’s vision transformed Kansas City’s landscape into a verdant oasis, punctuated by art, statuary, and fountains.

City Beautiful Movement
George Kessler’s City Beautiful Movement Plans for 17th & Troost, KCMO

The seeds of the City of Fountains Foundation were sown in 1973 when Harold D. Rice, a native of Kansas City, and his wife, Peggy, returned from a trip to Rome with a vision to enrich their community. Motivated by the grandeur of the Trevi Fountain, they established the Foundation to preserve existing fountains and create new ones. Their initiative gained traction quickly, with the City Council endorsing the Foundation’s mission the following year. Through metro-wide fundraising campaigns and strategic partnerships with KC Parks and Recreation, the Foundation embarked on a mission to construct and maintain fountains, ensuring their perpetual beauty for generations to come.

Harold D. Rice

Harold D. Rice’s passion for art and dedication to his community were evident throughout his illustrious career at Hallmark Cards. Starting as a lithograph retouching artist in 1941, Rice’s talent and commitment propelled him up the corporate ladder, culminating in his retirement as a group Vice President and board member in 1985. His innovative spirit and advocacy for breakthrough techniques in graphic arts left an indelible mark on the company and the industry as a whole.

Rice’s legacy extends beyond the corporate realm. His dedication to preserving Kansas City’s beauty earned him widespread recognition, including a dedication plaque honoring his contributions to the parks and fountains of the city in 1991. The Harold D. Rice Fountain, located at The Paseo and East 72nd Street, stands as a testament to his enduring impact and commitment to enhancing his beloved hometown.

Harold Rice Memorial Fountain_3

Today, the City of Fountains Foundation continues its mission, guided by a dedicated Board of Directors working in tandem with KC Parks and Recreation. Together, they oversee the maintenance and operation of 48 publicly-owned fountains, ensuring that each remains a cherished symbol of Kansas City’s cultural heritage.

As we marvel at the beauty of Kansas City’s fountains, let us not forget the visionaries like Harold D. Rice and the countless individuals who have contributed to their preservation. Their commitment to enhancing the aesthetic and cultural landscape of our city serves as an inspiration to us all, reminding us of the transformative power of art and community stewardship.

Lori Ventura

Lori Ventura is a website developer and a small business entrepreneur. She is a proud resident of her beloved Kansas City, actively promotes local small businesses and a super-fan of the glorious fountains that embody the spirit and beauty of Kansas City.


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