A campaign for improvement to the parks was already occuring as the public waited impatiently for work to begin. During July, the Park Board approved work to fix a recently constructed dam at the east end of Siloam Park. There was also a general discussion of making a dam across the stream where the concrete crossing of the main sewer crosses Fishing River and in that way form a little lake in the park, but deferred further discussion until the City Engineer could give opinion. The Excelsior Springs Daily Journal urged the City Council to add a couple thousand more in bonds to the improvement of Siloam Park and for a bathing beach and other attractions. None of these suggestions came to light, as the City remained true to the proposals of George Kessler.

In December of 1914, it was still unclear as to where the location of the Siloam Spring pavilion would be. Finally when pressed by Kessler so that he could make final revisions to the plans, the secretary of the Park Board responded that there was considerable objection from the Park Board and the public in moving the pavilion away from the original site. However, Kessler's suggestion that a platform raised to the level of Broadway met with no objections. In February 1915, Kessler and his assistant, Mr. Broadwell, consulted with the Parks Board and agreed that the Sulpho-Saline pavilion would also remain where it had always been. By April 1915, the revised sketches were received by the City Clerk. They contained the two spring pavilions with Siloam in its original location and terraced levels and steps from Broadway and Spring Street on the west. On April 12, 1915, the City Council approved the George Kessler plans for the Siloam Spring pavilion. Included were sketches of a new pavilion for the Sulpho-Saline well. However, Charles Ettenson, representing the Ettenson estate, said that he would not approve them yet.

By May 1915, the work of widening the channel of Fishing River through Siloam Park was almost complete. John Samual, president of the Park Board, with six men and three teams, did the work. Samuel reported that "the channel will be about twice as wide in the narrow places" and that within two or three years "the park will be filled in enough to allow Mr. Kessler's plan to be developed. Already the low places left by the old bed of the creek have been filled up seven or eight feet. Three or four feet more will put them on a level with the rest of the park." The dirt that was dredged up from the creek banks was placed along the border to help form a dike.

Unfortunately, after the work was completed, the worst flood in years struck Excelsior Springs on the night of May 26, 1915, as stated in the May 27, 1915 Daily Standard: "The muddy water wash over Siloam Park, carrying seats near the bandstand to the river and destroying the flowers that had been planted this spring. The dikes were under water and the stream pursued its old channel close to Siloam Spring for several hours. The water main heading from Broadway to the creek bursted and the force of the water dug a round hole about ten feet deep and five feet in diameter at the east end of the Siloam Pavilion platform. The sidewalk on Horseshoe Bend and the rock wall retaining it fell in near the Interurban Station. The swinging bridge near the Regent Spring washed off the cables and down the creek last night and the small footbridge connecting Marietta Street with Regent Avenue was washed away yesterday. A few of the benches from Siloam Park lodged near the Regent Spring, but most of them went on down the stream."

On June 28, 1915 the City Council passed an ordinance for a July 14 election to approve $20,000 in bonds for Siloam Spring. J.W. Coen introduced the ordinance for $15,000, but was convinced that $20,000 could legally be sought, and therefore, changed his motion. It carried unanimously. It was reported at this time "the plans of George W. Kessler, the park architect, will be followed closely in the construction of the pavilion, which will be built so as to harmonize with future development in the park plans."

Two days before the election, Mother Nature again tried to re-establish control over the park when heavy rains inundated Siloam Park. Marietta Street flooded between the Hotel Snapp and the bridge with approximately three feet of muddy water. Many of the park trees were lost in this flood. Regardless, citizens approved the bonds for the development of Siloam Spring park to continue. In August, the Kansas City Star contained a 4-column perspective drawing of the pavilion entrance to Siloam Spring and Park. W.H. Schumacher, a Kansas City architect, designed the elaborate pavilion, esplanade and grand stairway to decorate the Siloam Spring hill and lead the way down into the sunken garden.

By the end of 1915, Siloam Spring park encompassed a wide frontage on Broadway, combined with woodland surrounding and extending to the south, the combined area occupying two-thirds of the entire valley. It extended over a mile through the town along both banks of the river. The parks development, under the auspices of Kessler, already expended $100,000 on beautification, in addition to the construction of concrete arch bridges paved and drives for the extension of the park and driveway system.

By 1917, financing for the Siloam and Sulpho-Saline pavilions was finally in place by the passage of a Special Election for another $12,500. This money was for improving the public park, erecting a public bridge on Dunbar across Henri Avenue, and another bridge across Fishing River at the south line in Maple Grove. (Maple Grove was across the creek east of the Elms Hotel.) The election was held on August 8 -- 337 for and 128 against. Last minute details included approving plans by Greenbaum and Hardy, architects of Kansas City, Missouri for the Sulpho-Saline pagoda.

The land of the Sulpho-Saline well had a 99-year leasehold right owned by the Ettenson family. The first pagoda approved by the City Council was for a frame building. The Park Board objected and felt the City should "compel the Ettensons to build the right kind of pagoda at Siloam Spring according to agreement made with City." The Ettenson family then indicated that they would be willing to give up their leasehold rights if the City would give them title to an equally good piece of ground. Whether this was granted or not is unknown. However, changes were made in the plans of the pagoda before it's construction.

Click to continue:
Construction begins

Return to top