Kingsville, MO

The Powell family's enduring legacy: the vibrant and engaging Powell Gardens is a must see

CJ Coombs
Photo byDavid Clode on Unsplash.

Tucked away in Kingsville, Missouri about 15 minutes from Lee's Summit on US 50 Highway is the beautiful botanical garden known as Powell Gardens. If you have never been there or plan to go, give yourself several hours. On one of my visits, I found a bench inside a colorful array of flowers with a nice breeze and sat for a long time taking in the beauty.

Kingsville is located in the west central portion of Johnson County in Missouri. According to Data USA, the 2020 population was 339. Kingsville was established in 1856, and the post office that opened in 1857 is still operating.

The land associated with Powell Gardens was purchased by George E. Powell, Sr. in 1948. The property has served as a dairy farm, Boy Scout camp, and even an agricultural and natural resource center. It's been a botanical garden since 1988.

George E. Powell, Sr. and son

Powell, Sr. was a prominent businessman in Kansas City. Having seen hard work as a child with farming, the familiarity of working through challenges probably helped him achieve success. 

In 1952, Powell, Sr. and his son, George Powell, Jr., and Roy Freuhauf (owner of the Freuhauf Trailer Co.) acquired Yellow Transit Freight Lines (also known as YRC Freight and Yellow). In a few months, they returned Yellow Transit Freight Lines into a profitable company. The Powell family name was associated with Yellow for decades and a lot of credit is given to Powell, Jr. for steering it for so long.

Even with all George, Sr.'s success, he never forgot about the land in Johnson County, Missouri. In 1969, he donated the farm to the Kansas City Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and until 1984, it was a regional camp.

In 1984, the Powell Family Foundation with assistance from the University of Missouri’s School of Agriculture, developed a horticultural and natural resource facility. It was called Powell Center. Powell Center retained Environmental Planning and Design from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which was a leading consultant for botanical gardens in the country, and it saw that the land would be well-suited for developing a botanical garden.

In 1988, the ties with the University of Missouri ended, and Powell Gardens Inc. was established as a not-for-profit organization.

Friends of Powell Gardens, which is a separate organization, has thousands of members. The admission fees plus private donations, and profits from the gift shop and rentals support Powell Gardens.
The Island Garden, Powell Gardens, Kingsville, Missouri.Photo byPowellgardens, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

George Everett Powell, Sr. passed away on December 27, 1981, at age 82 or 83. He died three months after his wife, Hilda N. Brown Powell, who passed on September 11, 1981, at age 83 or 84. George Everett Powell, Jr. passed away on April 25, 2007, at age 80.
The entrance to the Marjorie Allen Powell Chapel at Powell Gardens.Photo byPowellgardens, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1981, Powell, Jr. became chairman of the Powell Family Foundation. He and his sisters, Marilyn Powell Rinker and philanthropist, Marjorie Powell Allen (b. 1929, d.1992), founded Powell Gardens. In 1984, he helped with the restoration of the historic Alexander Majors home at 83rd and State Line Road.

With this year's Orchid Delirium which lasts through April 16, you can return on April 29 when the orchids go on sale! Visit here to peruse the calendar of events of Powell Gardens. Also, if you're looking for a venue for your wedding, reception, or company event, Powell Gardens offers space options for you.

From 1991 when the Perennial Garden opened through 2009 when Heartland Harvest Garden opened, Powell Gardens has attracted thousands of visitors each year. There is so much to see and do here. Instead of elaborating on all the beauty and flowers, you'll have to see it for yourself.

Powell Gardens is located at 1609 N.W. U.S. Highway 50, Kingsville, MO 64061 (phone: 816.697.2600, or email at Visit here for hours and cost of admission.

Thank you for reading!

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms, and I retired early so I could be a writer all day. You could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri because I was born into the Air Force life. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

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