112 S. Thompson Ave. • Excelsior Springs, MO 64024
Phone 816-630-1040

Today and over the past 100 years our parks have reflected healthy lifestyles, community pride, family fun activities and a way to stay physically healthy
through exercise.


Excelsior Springs was founded in 1880 when the first of the healing waters and mineral springs that flowed naturally in our area was discovered. The owner of the spring, A.W. Wyman, realized the potential for developing his land. Along with Reverand Flack, he had the land platted, the water analyzed and started promoting its curative qualities. The spring, first named Excelsior, was later changed to Siloam.


"Old Siloam" was housed in the
George E. Kessler designed pavilion.

As Siloam spring because famous, people started noticing the numerous other springs in the area. The promotion and development around these other springs quickly followed, with the most prominent being the Empire (later Regent), Relief, Superior and Saratoga springs. The springs were popular gathering places for the locals and visitors alike. Twenty separate springs or wells were eventually discovered, releasing four distinct varieties of water.

Within a year, 200 houses were built on the hillsides and valley surrounding the original spring, while hundreds of other visitors had to camp in tents or covered wagons. Most of the developing areas of the new city were confined to what had been farmland, so the banks of the Fishing River and the wooded hillside areas stayed in their natural state, thus becoming perfect areas for park development. While we know people came for the waters, they also came for the natural beauty of our town. No where else, it was believed, could Mother Nature have provided this provident combination of health-giving waters in such a rugged, attractive setting. The citizens of Excelsior Springs soon realized that they needed to begin planning the development of their community. Luckily, some of the finest planners in the country were close at hand.

George E. Kessler, famous Kansas City landscape architect, began consulting with private developers in Excelsior Springs as early as 1906. His work included sketches and a subdivision in the Elms Historic District, as well as recommending the land following the Fishing River and including all the springs as far as Regent spring to be made into a park.
In 1914, Kessler accepted a contract for $1,000 with the City to prepare plans for "the park in the river valley ... and offer suggestions in the form of sketches and a perspective drawing ... of the buildings suggested for the spring house." (Missouri Historical Society, 1907-1915) A fair amount of what he proposed for consideration as parks and drives did eventually become just that.


For more about park history, visit our individual park pages, accessible here.
For more about our historic driveway system, click here.
For more about our mineral water springs and wells, click here.

. . . . . . . .

Excelsior Springs Park & Driveway System, Landscape Architectural Historic Survey, Three Gables Preservation; photos on file at the Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives researched by Lance Lamb; Joyce Green research.

IMPORTANT PEOPLE

George E. Kessler
A list prepared for an "Exhibition Outline" shows the known works of Kessler. In the chronological listing, he shows a park and boulevard planning study for Excelsior Springs in 1890. However, Kessler does not appear to have had any involvement with Excelsior Springs until 1906.


Jim E. Piburn
The Jim E. Piburn Ballfield in Paul Craig Park behind the Hall of Waters was named in honor of Piburn, who played professional and semi-professional baseball in the mid and late 1920s.
During the 1983


dedication of the baseball field, formerly named Siloam Baseball Field, Piburn was the first man to round the bases.Dressed in the same Excelsior Springs Merchants uniform he wore nearly six decades before, Piburn circled the bases, slid into home plate, and doffed his cap to a standing ovation from the crowd.


Jud Palmer
The community center is dedicated in honor of Jud Palmer who, among other accomplishments, started the first recreation program in Excelsior Springs.






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