George Edward Kessler (1862-1923) Papers (KC355)
George Edward Kessler was a landscape architect best known for his design of the Kansas City, MO park and boulevard system. Kessler was employed by the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Co. as the landscape architect for the 1904 World's Fair as well as for the restoration of Forest Park after the Fair. Kessler was also retained by the City of St. Louis as a consultant and remained active in the City Plan Commissions of both Kansas City and St. Louis.
Born in Bad Frankenhausen, Germany, Kesslerís parents left Germany in 1865 for Hoboken, New Jersey, before moving on to Dallas, Texas. After his father's death in 1878, young George returned with his mother and sister to Europe where he studied botany, landscape gardening and engineering for three years. He spent a year studying the civic design of major cities from Paris to Moscow before returning to the United States in 1882.
Kessler worked few months as a gardener in Frederick Law Olmstead's Central Park until he secured employment with the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad as head gardener where he was in charge of the Railroad's station parks. Among his assignments was laying out a pleasure park (Merriam Park) in Merriam, Kansas, just eight miles by rail from Kansas City, Missouri.
Kessler soon became well known in the mid-west and was eventually retained by the Kansas City Board of Park Commissioners in 1890 to plan and maintain a system of parks and boulevards. Gaining recognition through his involvement in Kansas City and the World's Fair, Kessler soon found himself involved in projects from Denver, CO to Memphis, TN and from Pensacola, FL to Syracuse, NY. Originally living and working out of Kansas City, Kessler soon opened a second office in St. Louis and eventually made 51 Vandeventer Place in St. Louis his home. Kessler was partnered with Architect Henry Wright in St. Louis, but Wright eventually left to open his own business in St. Louis.
Guided under the tutelage of the popular "City Beautiful Movement" of the time, Kessler's work matured from strictly landscape design to city planning and urban development. Kessler eventually stopped accepting small residential work choosing to focus on large scale city development. His concern for the future residential and business development of cities can be seen through his correspondence, particularly with the City Plan Commissions and his work with the Kansas City Board of Park Commissioners. Kessler held positions on park boards nation wide including Syracuse, NY and Memphis, TN. His illustrious career ended only with his death in March of 1923.
Note: Microfilm of the George E. Kessler Papers from the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis.
The George E. Kessler Papers are arranged first by subject and then either chronologically or alphabetically. The collection includes business and personal correspondence, handwritten documents, typed material, pamphlets, reports, minutes of proceedings, invitations, postcards, brochures, photographs, blueprints, sketches and maps. 1886-1923.
34 microfilm reels.
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Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Kansas City
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