Artist/Designer: Henri-Léon Gréber
Dates: Sculpted in 1910; Installed in 1960
Description: This fountain is the best-known and most-photographed of all of the city’s fountains. It is located at the east entrance to the popular Country Club Plaza district and the south end of Mill Creek Park.
The figures were sculpted by Henri-Léon Gréber in 1910 and adorned the mansion of Clarence Mackay in Long Island, New York. Over the years, the fountain was vandalized and parts went missing. The purchase and installation of the fountain was funded by the J.C. Nichols family, the city and private contributions, including a collection by school children in the Kansas City area. It was brought to Kansas City in 1951, refurbished by Herman Frederick Simon and dedicated as the J.C Nichols Memorial Fountain in 1960.
The fountain has four heroic horsemen which are said to represent four of the world’s mighty rivers:the Mississippi River (fending off an alligator), the Volga River (with the bear), the Seine and the Rhine. It also has four smaller figures of children playing on fish, commonly referred to as dolphins. However, one of the original four dolphins had gone missing prior to purchase and so a replica was commissioned.
The fountain underwent an extensive renovation in 2014 that was funded by the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation. As part of the renovation, the missing dolphin was found and took its rightful place in the fountain. The replica dolphin now sits nearby on a concrete base with an accompanying plaque describing its history and the history of the original it replaced.
On June 30, 2020, the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioner voted to remove the J.C. Nichols name from the fountain and adjacent parkway.