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Meet Neptune: The Plaza’s first fountain

Take a deep dive into the beloved fountain’s origins.

Neptune  (8).JPG

Instagram model by day, commander of the seas by night.

Photo by KCtoday

Kansas City is known as the “City of Fountains” and the Country Club Plaza is the KC Heart of it all. It boasts 17 fountains, including free-standing basin beauties + tiny wall-mounted wonders.

The Plaza’s first fountain: Neptune

The oldest (and Instagram’s favorite) flashy fixture is Neptune Fountain. King Neptune can be found upon his chariot, trident drawn, in the courtyard in front of Made in KC Marketplace (306 W. 47th St., KCMO).

How did Neptune get here?

According to the fountain’s placard, Neptune Fountain was sculpted in 1911 by the Bromsgrove Guild of Applied Arts in Worcester, England. It was commissioned by Alba Boardman Johnson, then-president of Baldwin Locomotive Co., to display at his Pennsylvania home.

Neptune fountain in its original spot in pennsylvania

This is where Neptune originally reigned.

Photos courtesy of McLean Library and Archives, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

After he died in 1935, no one would buy the fountain, so his estate threw it out. Years later, a salvage team found it in an abandoned railroad car. Plaza owner Miller Nichols purchased it as scrap metal and placed it on the Plaza in 1953. Thus, one man’s trash became a whole city’s treasure.

Fine-tuning the fountains

Their fabulous flows date back decades, though you’d never guess it thanks to the regularly-scheduled facelifts the fountains receive.

Maintaining these vintage vessels is its own job literally. According to Facilities Manager Todd Sharbono, the Plaza’s team spends ~25 hours every week detailing the fountains — draining them, scrubbing the basins, and gathering coins for Children’s Mercy Hospital that passersby pop in. In addition, fountains get a deep detox on a rotating basis.

plaza fountain cleaning

Even fountains need baths.

Photo courtesy of Country Club Plaza

“Every year, two fountains are selected to be thoroughly maintained,” said Sharbono. “This includes stripping the basin, recoating, and caulking them for long-term life and to withstand Kansas City summers + winters.”

Is there a particular Plaza fountain that you fancy? Let us know and we’ll take a deep dive into its history, too.

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