Thomas Hart Benton home getting ready for artist’s 125 birthday

Photo courtesy Thomas Hart Benton home website.

Photo courtesy Thomas Hart Benton home website.

A couple of events coming up at the Thomas Hart Benton home at 3616 Belleview in Roanoke offer us a chance to take a look back at the history of that site. First, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources is hosting a meeting on April 19 to give an update on the site and get feedback.  And it is also Benton’s 125 birthday anniversary on April 11, so you’re invited to the annual party at Kelley’s Westport Inn, where Benton used to hang out. (details about both of these are below)

Thomas Hart Benton is perhaps the best-known artist from Midtown, and his well-preserved home and studio at 3616 Belleview offer a window into his life. Benton is affiliated with the regionalist art movement along with Grant Wood and John Steuart Curry, and his paintings showed everyday people in scenes from everyday life.

Benton was born in Neosho, Missouri in 1889 to a political family. His great uncle Thomas Hart Benton was an important state senator and son of Maecenas Benton, a four-term US Representative. But Tom headed out to Chicago, Paris and New York to see the bigger world and develop his artistic skills, returning to Missouri in 1935. He began work on murals at the Missouri State Capital as well as becoming director of painting at the Kansas City Art Institute.

The artist and his wife Rita moved into the Belleview residence in 1939 and he lived there until his death in 1975. The home is now run as a historical site, with Benton’s home and studio almost frozen in time. The painter worked in a converted carriage house on the property where he produced both paintings and murals.

According to the Benton home application to the National Historic Register, Harry Truman, Buckminster Fuller, Carl Sandberg and others visited the Bentons here in Midtown.

Details on public meeting

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is hosting a public meeting there, at 3616 Belleview, on Sunday, April 13. Guided tours of the home and studio will be available before and after the meeting. An emphasis during the meeting will be a summary of events taking place around the city to celebrate Tom Benton’s 125th birthday. Learn more about these celebrations, and pick up a schedule of events.

The department says input from the public is important to the department. These informational meetings, which are being held in all state parks and historic sites, help create a two-way communication. The meetings give staff the opportunity to let people know the current status and future the facilities. If you have any questions or need directions please call Steve Sitton, Site Administrator mat 816-931-5722.

Details on the birthday bash

  • Friday, April 11
 6-8 p.m,
  • Kelly’s Westport Inn, 500 Westport Road
  • Come pay tribute to this talented and treasured man during our annual Benton Bash.   We’ll have artwork, special giveaways and prizes, the curator and staff from the Friends of Benton Home & Studio, video playback of the incredible Ken Burns documentary on Kansas City’s favorite son and more.  

Refreshments include a special 125th Benton birthday cake compliments of the Kelly family in honor of the man who once frequented this very establishment.
Free admission and no RSVP necessary.


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