In 1972, the Jacob L. Loose Park became the home to the Stanley R. McLane Arboretum.
History tells that William Bent owned this acreage during the Battle of Westport, part of which was fought on these grounds Oct. 21-23, 1864. Later, under the ownership of Seth Ward from 1871-1926, the land was leased to the Kansas City Country Club for the use as a golf course. In 1926, Ella C. Loose purchased the land from the Ward estate, and in 1927 she deeded the 75 acres to Kansas City to be used as a park in the memory of her late husband, Jacob L. Loose.
In 1947, landscape architects Hare and Hare mapped out an arboretum in which they envisioned trees such as oaks, lindens, buckeyes, black walnuts, maples, ash and more.
Stanley R. McLane (1894-1971) served as the landscape supervisor for the J.C. Nichols Company for 44 years beautifying the Country Club Plaza and his company’s many residential communities. As a community service, McLane identified and tagged trees in Loose Park. Additionally, he compiled a list of trees that, in his opinion, needed to be planted in the park. That list served as guidance for further acquisitions in the arboretum. McLane was also one of the founders and early leaders of the then Garden Center Association of Greater Kansas City, fore-bearer of today’s Gardeners Connect. A year after McLane’s death, the arboretum was dedicated in his name.
Throughout the last 39 years, the arboretum has continually received support from dedicated individuals such as George Eib and Addie Ward; from various foundations; from Eagle Scouts; from citizens of the greater Kansas City area; from the Kansas City Department of Parks and Recreation; and, from Gardeners Connect. Each in his/her own way has helped the arboretum thrive.
George Eib, also known as “Mr. Tree, retired in 1994 as superintendent of forestry and landscaping for Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department after a 34-year career. Building from McLane’s suggested list of trees, Eib not only established his own list of “needed trees” but also planted many of these trees during his career.
Tree donors select from Eib’s list along with additional suggestions by KC Parks and Rec Forester Kevin LaPointe, and by Judy Penner, director of Loose Park.
As he did during his career, Eib continues to administer and participate in Kansas City’s Arbor Day tree planting ceremony in the arboretum every April. A vast number of trees have been added and maintained in the arboretum through the very generous philanthropy of Addie Ward. In 2011, a Babylon Weeping Willow was dedicated to Ward at the Arbor Day tree planting ceremony.
Four boy scouts have improved the arboretum by developing and executing Eagle Scout projects. In 1976 under the leadership of Eagle Scout John Douglas Dietrich and from donations from the citizens of Kansas City, eight Battle of Westport informational boards were erected at the south end of the park by the Civil War canon.
In the summer of 2011, scouts Gregory Wiedeman and Anthony Mendoza and each of their crews mulched 75 trees in the arboretum respectively, thus earning an Eagle Scout designation for both boys. Recently on the Labor Day weekend, Alex Albright completed his Eagle project by supervising the installation of 13 plaques identifying trees in the arboretum by their botanical and common names. (Note: plaques are embedded in the ground on the east side of the trees. Not all trees in the arboretum have plaques.)
Thank you to former Gardeners Connect board member and Arbor Day recipient Jo Missildine for researching and compiling this information.
Stanley R McLane Arboretum Restoration Project 1995-2000
317 trees were planted and $195,000 spent on the project.
Inventory of Arboretum completed by JL Bruce and Co. at a cost of $10,000, paid 50% by Gardeners Connect and 50% by the Parks Department.
66 trees planted, 33 species. $15,000 Gardeners Connect and $5,000 Parks Dept.
Tree pruning and removal: $25,000, Parks Dept.
10 trees planted by Loose Park Homes Association
25 cherry tree planted by Kansas City Sister City Commission
96 trees planted funded by the Missouri Department of Conservation
Grant received from RA Barros Foundation,, $7,500
Grant received from Jacob and Ella Trust, $10,000
August – Microburst destroyed 17 mature trees
October – Heavy wet snow caused considerable damage
Replace 22 trees under warranty
Reevaluated tree plantings
Replacement of 24 trees (12 species) under warranty
Directional signing and labels developed
Last planting of 22 trees funded by a grant from Branch Out America and funding from Gardeners Connect.