Powell Gardens is a private, not-for-profit organization located just east of Kansas City, Missouri, with the mission of inspiring people to appreciate, beautify and conserve our natural environment. The Gardens' peaceful setting on 915 acres provides opportunities for learning and reflection through a year-round education program, research and special events. The Gardens receive support from foundations, corporations, individuals, the Friends of Powell Gardens and income generated through admissions, gift shop sales and rentals.
Powell Gardens is known for its spectacular garden displays incorporating native plantings and its contemporary architecture by the architectural firm originally established by Fay Jones, now Maurice Jennings and David McKee Architects. The Gardens can be rented for weddings, receptions, ceremonies and other private events.
History:Powell Gardens' history begins in 1948, when George E. Powell, Sr., a prominent Kansas City businessman, acquired the beautiful tract of land that is now Powell Gardens. Mr. Powell had learned firsthand about the sometimes harsh and unpredictable life of farming during his childhood on the family farm. In 1917, he left to pursue a business career in Kansas City. He, along with his son George Powell Jr., and others, took over ownership of Yellow Transit Freight Lines, now Yellow Transportation, in 1952. Throughout his successful business career, Mr. Powell never lost interest in the lands of Missouri. He and his family and friends enjoyed many weekends on his Johnson County, Missouri, farm.
In 1969, in keeping with his stewardship philosophy, Mr. Powell donated the 640-acre farm to the Kansas City Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, who used it as a regional camp until 1984. In 1984, with the University of Missouri's School of Agriculture as a catalyst and partner, the Powell Family Foundation began developing a horticultural and natural resource facility called Powell Center.
As a part of this development, Powell Center retained Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based Environmental Planning and Design, the leading U.S. consultants for botanical gardens. The firm recognized that the site would be ideal for development as a botanical garden. In 1988, official ties with the University of Missouri ended and Powell Gardens Inc., a not-for-profit organization, was established. A 19-member board of directors, in which several Powell family members serve, governs Powell Gardens. Friends of Powell Gardens, a separate organization, is made up of more than 5,000 members. Staffing at the Gardens fluctuates between 35 employees during off-season and close to 70 in peak season. Powell Gardens is supported through private donations and admission, gift shop and rental revenues.