History of the Landscape Architecture Firm of
Hare and Hare
Architectural and Historical Research
© State Historical Society of Missouri
Parks educate people in an art equally as grand as the art of painting or sculpture. They influence people to adorn their home ground, to plant trees and shrubs and to study nature, the mother of all true art. -- Sidney J. Hare, 1897
Sidney J. Hare formed a landscape architecture firm with his son, S. Herbert Hare in Kansas City, Missouri, when the practice of landscape architecture in America was still a fledgling profession. Continuing a tradition of landscape design and city planning begun by George E. Kessler, the father of Kansas Citys parks and boulevard system, the successful father and son team of Hare and Hare taught us much about the nature of their art and the beauty of the land around us. Along with other notable pioneer landscape architects such as Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., James Sturgis Pray, and Henry Wright, Hare and Hare also "built on landscape architectures dual heritage as a fine art and a profession of social environmental reform to establish the planning profession in the United States."(1)
A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Sid Hare was born on January 26, 1860. Along with his family, Sid moved from Kentucky to Kansas City, Missouri, by riverboat in 1868. Sid had no formal landscape training, but as a high school student, he had studied horticulture, civil engineering, geology, surveying, and photography. In Kansas City, from 1881 to 1896, Hare worked in the city engineers office, where he was introduced to George Kessler (1862-1923). It was this relationship with Kessler, who was then a landscape engineer for the city, that inspired Hares interest in landscape design.
In 1896, Hare resigned from his city job to become the superintendent of Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri. The following year at the Association of American Cemetery Superintendents convention in Cleveland, he made his debut as an authority on cemetery design. At a subsequent convention in 1901, Hare discussed the cemetery as botanical garden, bird sanctuary, and arboretum -- probably the first such conversation of that topic on record in the design evolution of the modern cemetery. As proof of what he believed, Hare assembled at Forest Hill one of the most comprehensive collections of trees and shrubs in the Midwest.
Hares opinion that nature was the mother of all true art and that painting, sculpture, and landscape art were ready-made inspirations for adorning home grounds, reflected his background and avant-garde ideas.
Hare compared the landscape ideals of naturalistic parks with those of modern cemeteries. He realized that the large expanses of well-managed lawns with trees and shrub groups, which exemplified parks, could be applied to contemporary burial grounds. Over the next thirty years, Hare incorporated velvet lawns, groups of ornamental trees and shrubs, mirror lakes, curving roads and walks, and long vistas into the cemeteries he designed. By combining the distinctive features of parks and cemeteries, Hare set the precedent for two decades of refinements in cemetery design and ambience.
Hare resigned his office at Forest Hill in 1902 to establish himself in the practice of landscape architecture. His resignation was "a great loss to Forest Hill" but a "blessing to cities, cemeteries, and wealthy families in twenty-eight states."(2) In the first decade of the 20th century, Hare already had established a well-reputed and successful business, partly due to his 1897 article entitled "The Influence of Surroundings," which appeared in the notable publication Park and Cemetery and Landscape Gardening. Among Hares early projects in Kansas City and the region were Cunningham Park in Joplin, Missouri (1907) and Waterway Park and Parkwood Subdivision in Kansas City, Kansas (1907). More than twenty-five major projects in six states either had been completed or begun by the time Hares son returned from college to join his father in partnership.
A plan for the Bethany Hospital grounds in Kansas City, dated 1910, confirms the year that the office became Hare and Hare. The new partner, just back from studying landscape planning at Harvard University, was S. Herbert Hare. As a special student, Herbert had been admitted to Harvards School of Architecture in 1908. He completed the work for a masters, but the degree was not granted because he had not satisfied the required preliminary course work. With Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. as his principal instructor, Herbert was one of the first six students in the United States to formally prepare for the new profession of landscape architecture. The Harvard program, the nations first landscape architectural curriculum, produced "most of Americans leading landscape architects for the next half-century."(3)
During their twenty-eight year association, Sid preferred to pursue park and cemetery projects, while Herbert mastered the details of community planning and design. Herbert also worked as a consultant to City Planning commissions throughout the Midwest. Early commissions included Wagner Place, Jefferson City, Missouri (1913); Point Defiance Park, Tacoma, Washington (1914); the Park and Boulevard system, Kansas City, Kansas (1915); Campus of the University of Kansas, Lawrence (1913-1918); and several cemeteries, in addition to smaller private and public projects. Their trademark -- winding roads contoured to natural topography, preservation of trees and valleys, and an eye for the scenic vista -- became well established.
In 1913 the firm attracted the attention of J.C. Nichols, who hired the Hares to work on the Country Club District in Kansas City. In addition to laying out approximately 2,500 acres, the firm designed the grounds for many of the homes, including some of the five-acre estates that made up the original Mission Hills, across the state line in Johnson County, Kansas. Herbert was personally responsible for subdivision planning, for many of the detailed entrances and parks, and for creating appropriate settings for many of the imported objects dart that Nichols placed throughout his developments. By collaborating with Nichols on the masterplan, the firm made the jump from "site scale" to "district scale planning." [See also the WHMC-KC exhibit on Ward Parkway.]
Most of Hare and Hares private work ceased during World War I, with the exception of Sids cemetery design business. Herbert worked for the United States Government, designing military installations, including Camp Funston, Fort Riley, Kansas (1917), five camps and cantonments in the South and projects for the U. S. Housing Corporation.
Hare and Hare collaborated again with Kessler and J. C. Nichols on the plan for the new town of Longview, Washington, the largest pre-planned city of its time outside Washington, D.C. During the early 1920s, community planning and design changed appreciably when America realized the needs of an increasingly industrial and technological society. In 1922, as one of the "first post-war manifestations of this awakening,"(4) Longview, Washington was created.
Hare and Hare received the design commission, with George Kessler as design consultant and J.C. Nichols retained as realty consultant. The plan, which included a central business district, three residential areas, suburban acreage, and a central manufacturing district, also provided an area for two enormous mills. Longview was a challenging assignment because of its scope and demonstrated Hare and Hares expertise in yet another aspect of their practice -- city planning.
By the end of the 1920s, the firms national reputation was secure. Projects in twenty-eight states, including cemeteries, college campuses, subdivisions, parks, and military camps, had been commissioned. Hare and Hare also collaborated with prominent Kansas City architect Edward Buehler Delk in planning the Country Club Plaza, yet another J.C. Nichols development in Kansas City, Missouri. Herbert began to spend a great deal of his time with the public sector as a consultant to city planning and parks commissions throughout the U. S., in cities such as Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, and Oklahoma City. The appointment of the firm to finish George Kesslers Kansas City, Missouri commissions when he died in 1923 "was a measure of Kesslers respect and trust of the Hare and Hare firm."(5)
Between the depression and Sid Hares death in 1938, Hare and Hare completed several Kansas City, Missouri projects including the Laura Conyers Smith Municipal Rose Garden in Loose Park (Sid completed the planting plan in 1937, a year before his death) and the setting for the Nelson Gallery of Art (1930-1937; now the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art). Yet much of the firms work in the 1930s was outside Kansas City, partly because Hare and Hare was finishing Kesslers commissions and partly because of Herberts disagreements with local politicians. Notable commissions from this era include plans for numerous state parks throughout Missouri that began in 1937 and continued through the 1950s (Arrow Rock, Bennett Springs, Mark Twain, Table Rock, and Wallace); campuses for the University of Houston (1937-1950); University of Kansas Medical School, Kansas City, Kansas (1934-1936); University of Texas at Austin (1932-1939); and private developments in Wilmington, Delaware and Houston, Texas.
World War II brought a change to the firms commissions. Hare and Hares work in the early 1940s concentrated almost exclusively on government subsidized projects including military housing. From 1945 through the 1950s, Hare and Hare resumed varied projects for the private sector in 33 states, Canada, and Costa Rica including numerous campus plans: Texas Christian University, Fort Worth (1945-1955); Southern Methodist University, Dallas (1947); University of Kentucky, Lexington (1957); Kansas State University, Manhattan (1951); subdivisions in Missouri, Texas, Georgia, and Kansas; and the grounds for the Harry S. Truman in Independence, Missouri (1956) and Linda Hall, Kansas City, Missouri (1957). In addition, planning and zoning studies became a large part of their work. In 1960, soon after completing plans for Lake Jacomo, near Kansas City, Missouri, Herbert Hare died. "Hares death," stated an article in the Kansas City Times, "leaves a regional as well as a local void that will be hard to fill at a time when excellent urban planning was never more desperately needed."(6)
The partners that Sid and his son personally selected carried on the firms tradition until the mid-1960s when a number of factors contributed to a significant drop in commissioned work for Hare and Hare. Once the firm gave up the idea that they could be both landscape architects and engineers, they were faced with abolishing the engineering aspect of their work altogether. The city planning portion of their work went through the same pattern and once public funds decreased, the staff left one by one for better jobs. In 1975 a merger with Lawrence-Leiter and Company, a city planning firm, was announced. It was commonly believed that this merger would regenerate business for Hare and Hare, but in 1977, Lawrence-Leiter pulled out. In 1980, in an attempt to revitalize their work and renew their reputation once again, the firm of Hare and Hare merged with Ochsner and Associates to form Ochsner Hare and Hare, which continues today.
Sid Hares national reputation as a leading authority on cemetery design led him to be elected as a fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects (1912). Herbert was also active professionally. He frequently lectured and published articles on English suburbs and European garden cities that served as models for city and regional planning. He was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Park Executives and served as a director of the American Institute of Planners. Moreover, he served as vice president of the ASLA (he had been elected a fellow) in 1940 and as president in 1944.
© State Historical Society of Missouri
1 William H. Tishler, editor. American Landscape Architecture, Designers and Places. (Washington, D. C.: The Preservation Press, 1989), 68.
2 "The Pioneers of Cemetery Administration in America." Association of American Cemetery Superintendents. September, 1942, n.p.
3 American Landscape Architecture, 12.
4 Mellier Goodin Scott. American City Planning Since 1890. (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1969), 234.
5 Bettina C. Van Dyke. "The Evolution of 19th and 20th Century Cemetery Landscape Types as Exemplified by Hare & Hares Cemetery Design." Manhattan, KS: Kansas State University, 1984, 80. Copy, Masters Thesis.
6 "In Memorium, S. Herbert Hare." Kansas City Times. April 20, 1960, n.p.
Elwood, P. H. Jr., ed. American Landscape Architecture. New York: Architectural Book Publishing Company, 1924.
Fowler, Richard B. "Herbert Hares Turning Point was a Spiral Curve." Kansas City Star. July 3, 1931.
Hare, S. Herbert. "The Prospective Field of our Profession." Landscape Architecture. July, 1936.
______________. "The Setting for a Museum of Fine Arts." Landscape Architecture. January, 1939.
______________. "Planning of Industrial City of Longview, Washington." Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineering. August, 1927.
Hare, Sid J. "The Influence of Surroundings." Park and Cemetery and Landscape Gardening. September, 1897.
Hare, Sid J. and S. Herbert Hare. The Cemetery Handbook. Chicago: Allied Arts Publishing Company, 1921.
___________________________. "Boundary Treatment of Cemeteries." Park and Cemetery and Landscape Gardening. February, 1916.
___________________________. "Transformation of the Home Grounds." Park and Cemetery and Landscape Gardening. May, 1906.
"In Memorium, S. Herbert Hare." Kansas City Times. April 20, 1960.
Newton, Norman. Design on the Land: The Development of Landscape Architecture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971.
"Obituary", Sidney J. Hare. American Association of Cemetery Superintendents Bulletin. November, 1938.
Piland, Sherry and Uguccioni, Ellen J. Fountains of Kansas City: A History and Love Affair. Kansas City, MO: City of Fountains Foundation, 1985.
The Pioneers of Cemetery Administration in America." Association of American Cemetery Superintendents. September, 1942.
Scott, Mellier Goodin. American City Planning Since 1890. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1969.
Tishler, William H., editor. American Landscape Architecture, Designers and Places. Washington, D. C.: The Preservation Press, 1989.
Van Dyke, Bettina C. "The Evolution of 19th and 20th Century Cemetery Landscape Types as Exemplified by Hare and Hares Cemetery Design." Manhattan, KS: Kansas State University, 1984. Masters Thesis; copy.
Last revised: Tuesday, October 04, 2011
© State Historical Society of Missouri