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Hare & Hare, Landscape Architects

Here Lies Kansas City by Wilda Sandy, Published by Bennett Schneider Inc., 1984

Hare & Hare

Hare and Hare, father and son, were the first and last word in Kansas City landscape architecture from the late teens into the 1930s. Any large and prestigious project from that era bears witness, Downtown the Courthouse, City Hall and Municipal Courts complex is theirs; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; J. C. Nichols’ vast Country Club empire; and parks and cemeteries on both sides of the state line. And scores of cities in 28 states owe their ambiance to Hare and Hare, including R. A. Long’s planned city of Longview, Washington.

Father and guiding light was Sid J. Hare, a gentle, scholarly, investigative man. He was born January 26, 1860 in Louisville, Kentucky, and came to Kansas City eight years later. Trained as a surveyor and civil engineer, his first love remained horticulture.

In 1896 these two melded when Sid Hare was appointed superintendent of Forest Hill cemetery. There for six years he lovingly sculpted the terrain’s rolling contours, designed curving roadways, laid native stone walls and planted hundreds of varieties of trees—making Forest Hill “more than just a monument field.”

Sid Hare had more sides than a diamond. From engineer to horticulturalist to amateur geologist was no stretch for his fertile imagination. For years he painstakingly unearthed, identified and catalogued upwards of 500 fossil remains from Kansas City buildings sites. And he also found time to be a avid armchair Egyptologist——working on the theory that within the Great Pyramid’s Secret Chamber would be found the Ark of the Covenant, the Golden Candlesticks and other sacred utensils.

In 1902 Sid Hare started his own consulting firm, and eight years later, he was joined by his son, S. Herbert, a landscape architect who had studied under Frederick Law Olmstead at Harvard. Thus Hare and Hare was born in 1910.

When Sid Hare moved to his country place in 1924, “Harecliff”, this 21-acre tract of wooded valley on Gregory boulevard near Blue Ridge, became his hobby. There he cultivated every weed and wild flower indigenous to Missouri. The Santa Fe Tail had passed across this refuge, and Care Spring where pioneers had refreshed themselves and their livestock lay just beyond. Hare venerated the history as much as the land.

Sid Hare was 78 when he died at Harecliff October 25, 1938. He came full circle. His deft touch began at Forest Hill cemetery. Now he and his partner-son, who died in 1960, lie buried there, not far form the site of the house occupied at 69th Street and Troost avenue during Sid Hare’s cemetery superintendency.