Building The Arts: Wall of Dedication at the Liberty Memorial

Photograph by Susan Richards Johnson & Associates, Inc., 2012.

A place you may not have visited recently, or one you may not know about, represents a revitalized piece of Kansas City’s great history that is well worth experiencing.

The Wall of Dedication at the Liberty Memorial has undergone a major restoration effort for the Board of Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation Commissioners. Located along Pershing Road on the northeast corner of the Liberty Memorial site, this historically significant monument commemorates the dedication of the original site chosen for the Liberty Memorial. Also referred to as the “General’s Wall” or “Dedication Wall,” the extensive restoration was completed in 2012 as a part of a larger restoration effort including work throughout the Liberty Memorial site. The Dedication Wall was in danger of complete loss due to years of weathering and water infiltration which had greatly deteriorated the integrity of the
entire wall.

The restoration included technical research in order to ascertain appropriate replacement materials and preservation methodology. Research determined that the original limestone known as Banderas, had come from a quarry near Fort Scott, Kan. Matching limestone was produced from this original quarry and utilized for replacement of the deteriorated units. Extensive hand carving was undertaken by local stone carvers to recreate the delicate relief of the original design. A new stone bench was fabricated from the Banderas stone and each of the bronze plaques was carefully restored.

Originally designed in 1933, the Dedication Wall was completed in 1935. The monument’s design was undertaken in a collaboration that included the offices of Hare and Hare and the Olmsted Brothers. The actual design work was executed by E.M. Prellwitz, of the Olmsted Brothers office. The monument was placed at the terminus of the expansive north lawn that lay beneath the Liberty Memorial complex. Individual units of stone had been intricately carved in order to display the names of the five important Allied leaders who joined together on November 1, 1921 to dedicate the original site for the Liberty Memorial during the Third Convention of the American Legion. This was the only time in history when these leaders were together in one place. They spoke to a crowd of more than 100,000 people.

Bronze portrait medallions grace the wall depicting these leaders as follows: David Beatty, Admiral of the British Fleet; Ferdinand Foch, Marshal of France; John J. Pershing, General ofthe Armies of the United States American Expeditionary Forces; Armando Diaz, General of the Army of Italy; and Baron Jacques, Lieutenant General of Belgium. As constructed, this slightly curved wall is 90 feet in length with an overall height of 10 feet. Two quotes are carved into the limestone wall authored by General John J. Pershing and President Woodrow Wilson. There are two bronze tablets that flank the ends of the wall, one commemorating those who served their country during World War I and another to mark the site’s original dedication.

The Wall of Dedication welcomes visitors and patrons to the Liberty Memorial within historic Penn Valley Park. While you are on the grounds, take a stroll along the numerous restored walking trails which offer extraordinary views of the Liberty Memorial and its surroundings. A panoramic view of Kansas City can be experienced from the top of the iconic Tower. A visit to the National World War I Museum is highly recommended and would provide a memorable experience for all.

— Susan Richards Johnson, AIA | Contributing Writer


Leave a Reply