Westport museum continues work on African America history exhibits

A Westport museum says it will be the first historic site in Kansas City to interpret slavery and the local African American experience during the 19th century.

The 1855 Harris-Kearney House Museum, housed in the oldest remaining residence in Kansas City, has been working to restore “Hattie’s room” with a grand opening scheduled for spring of 2014.

“Harriet ‘Hattie’ Drisdom Kearney was the only slave ever purchased by Colonel Charles Kearney.  Though he had not intended to buy any slaves, Kearney nevertheless bought Harriet in order to save her from a cruel man.  Two years later, in 1857, she was given her freedom.  Instead of leaving, she chose to stay with her new family.  She was the first African-American to be buried in the “white section” of Union Cemetery,” the museum says.

The museum this week said that when a restroom was demolished at the house, the original wood floor of her room was discovered and is being restored as much as possible to its original state.

The historical society continues to raise money for the project.

As the Hattie’s room exhibit opens next year, an exhibit of Steptoe, a post-Civil War multi-ethnic neighborhood near Westport, will also be on permanent display.


  • The 1855 Harris-Kearney House Museum is open for tours Wednesday-Saturday, from 1-5 p.m.
  • Website 
  • Phone 816-561-1821
  • Email westporthistorical@gmail.com
  • Facebook: 1855 Harris-Kearney House Museum or our Westport Historical Society group page

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