Several Midtown sites on 2015 most endangered list

One of the Armour buildings on this year's most endangered list, 118 West Armour, as it looked in 1940. Courtesy Kansas City Public Library -Missouri Valley Special Collections.

One of the Armour buildings on this year’s most endangered list, 118 West Armour, as it looked in 1940. Courtesy Kansas City Public Library – Missouri Valley Special Collections.

Four historic buildings on Armour Boulevard in Old Hyde Park are once again on this year’s Historic Kansas City Foundation most endangered list. Preservationists have fought to save the apartments built in 1902-03, while owners the Silliman Group and manager MAC properties have argued the buildings cannot be made financially viable.

New to the list this year are the Kirkwood Mansion at 46th and Rockhill and other properties near the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

“The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is considering expanding their footprint, which threatens a number of historic homes including the Kirkwood Mansion. The ‘Nelsonhood’ is at the heart of the city’s cultural district and encompasses some of the city’s quintessential Parks and Boulevards neighborhoods including Southmoreland and Rockhill,” the report states. The announcement of a Cultural Arts District plan “again raises concerns about institutional expansion that neighborhood residents in the past repeatedly opposed in the interest of retaining the integrity of their community,” it says.

In addition, the foundation has placed Modern architecture, in general, on its list of architecture threatened with demolition. The report says post-World War II architecture has not been broadly surveyed in Kansas City and threats include demolition as well as “removal of original materials that contribute to the aesthetics of Modernism.”

It cites several examples: removal of elements from the Halls and the Board of Trade buildings on the Plaza; the demolished Beth Shalom Religious Center; and the discussion of demolishing the Kemper Arena. These actions strengthen the argument that “Kansas City needs to survey properties built from 1945 to 1979 in an effort to formally identify Modern structures that could be eligible for historic designation.”

Other buildings on the most endangered list include (in no particular order):

  • Sauer Castle, 935 Shawnee Road, Kansas City, Kansas: This home built in 1872 is, according to the report, one of the most historically significant houses in KCK. Although it is on the National Register of Historic Places, preservationists say the current owner has allowed it to deteriorate.
  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Building, Film Row, 220-224 W. 18th Street: The foundation says this building, part of Kansas City’s heritage as a distribution point for the film industry, is threatened by neglect.
  • 18th and Vine Historic District: The report finds that this area “has been suffering from a lack of investment and building neglect for many decades.
  • Midwest Hotel: 20th and Main: The foundation says this five-story terra cotta hotel built in 1915 sold at auction in 2013 and is currently owned by a bank. Preservationists say it is significant as an example of a working class hotel. “Demolition for new construction is likely, especially considering development pressure along the new streetcar line that will run directly in front of the hotel,” according to the report
  •  St. John the Divine, Kansas City, Kansas: This church was built in 1887 and has been a cultural anchor for the Mexican-American neighborhood of the Argentine, but has been vacant since 1992.
  •  African American Heritage Sites, Kansas City, MO: In addition to 18th and Vine, the foundation raises concerns about other sites including: the Downs Building at 18th and Prospect, an important center for African-American political, social and musical events; the Rector Mansion at 2000 E. 12th, former home of the first female black millionaire; and Wheatley Provident Hospital at 1826 Forest. “There is a strong need for a comprehensive city-wide survey to identify additional sites of significance in order to develop a protection strategy for these important historic resources,” the report says.
  • Francis Willard Elementary School, 5015 Garfield: One of the schools the district has put up for sale as part of its repurposing program, Williard School could face demolition. “Numerous developers have looked at the building for reuse as rental housing or senior apartments, but the relative small size of the building and the state of deterioration make the project difficult,” the report says.
  • Quindero Ruins, 27th and Sewell, Kansas City, Kansas: The Quindero site, a key stop along the underground railway for escaping slaves, has been somewhat preserved but continues to crumble.

More details in the HKC press release

2014 most endangered list


Leave a Comment