1862 - 1923
George E. Kessler
Born in a small village in Germany, Kessler moved with his family to the United States when he was three years old. At 16, he returned to Germany for his education. After his studies in botany, forestry, and design and further instruction in civil engineering he returned to New York in 1882. Like Adolph Strauch and Reinhard Schuetze, Kessler brought 19th century German design training to American landscape architecture.
A recommendation from Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., led to Kessler’s first United States project, a park in Merriam, Kansas, which in turn resulted in commissions for several subdivision plans including Hyde Park in Kansas City, Missouri; Euclid Heights in Cleveland, Ohio; and the first phase of Roland Park in Baltimore, Maryland. Kessler’s highly successful design for the landscape of the St. Louis 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition established his national reputation.
During World War I, facing endemic anti-German sentiment, Kessler served his adopted country by designing wooden training facilities known as cantonments with the Army Corps of Engineers. His efforts earned him the belated respect of his professional colleagues. In 1919 they elected him a member, and in 1923, Vice President, of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Today, Kessler is best known for the park systems he designed for Kansas City, Cincinnati, Fort Worth, Houston, Dallas, Indianapolis, and Fort Wayne (Lawrence Sheridan carried the latter two projects forward following Kessler’s death in 1923).