Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Flocks of Flocks

There is so much shade in my backyard that no flowers will grow except right by the patio where the sun still reaches most of the day. Tall-stalk flocks love it, are pretty much indestructible and bloom for almost a month. All kinds of flying critters visit.... I'll have some photos of them later. These were taken with the Nikon 105mm macro and 70-200mm zoom with Cannon macro filter.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Movie Night in Budd Park

The first Movie Night of the season was held last night in Budd Park... St. John and Hardesty... over 100 boys, girls, moms and dads sat on the hillside to watch Kung Fu Panda and eat snacks. Blankets, pillows, sweaters and lawn chairs were the order of the day. The next movie is Madagascar 2 on July 25th, then The Tale of Despereaux on August 1st and the finale is Hotel for Dogs on August 8th. Movies start at dusk... best to arrive around 8 or 8:30. It's Free. Movies are screened on the north side of the shelter house.Movie Night was introduced by Scott Wagner, President of the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association the organizing sponsor of the event.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

KC Doesn't Remember History It Levels It

Gates home prior to its leveling in 1971.... the Carriage house is visible on the right in back.

Until 1971 a beautiful Victorian mansion stood on the corner of Independence Boulevard and Garfield Avenue in Pendleton Heights. Built by millionaire Jemuel Gates who fronted the money to build the first Children's Mercy Hospital 4 blocks to the west, the house was leveled to build a church. However, the carriage house remained untouched... until now. Due to a city worker bee error (she forgot to check to see if the building was on the historic register) and an over zealous contractor who did not yet have full permission to begin demolition... the building has been reduced to a shell. Intervention by neighborhood leaders... chiefly Kent Dicus... has led to a 15-day halt to the demolition... which shouldn't have happened in the first place. Here's what the Gate's Carriage House looked like on Friday afternoon.

Original structure is on the left... white part on right was added on in the early part of the last century.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Boys' Hotel Cornerstone Opened After 88 Years

My good friend Brad came into possession (legally) of the cornerstone from the old Boys Hotel Memorial constructed in 1921 just off Paseo at Admiral and Flora next to what used to be the University of Health Sciences Hospital... now apartments and offices for Police and Fire. In cleaning off mortar from the top of the block he discovered through sonic means that there was a copper box inside. Opening same revealed contents that were sealed up inside 88 years ago. Unfortunately time and moisture have not been kind to the papers inside and most will probably not be salvageable. Some obvious letters were so decayed they were just powder.
Also inside were numerous coins and tokens, a ticket to Fairmount Park and a few notes and such that have yet to be deciphered. A real treasure no matter how bad off it is. Here are pictures from the opening.
Copper box revealed in the center of the stone block... a cavity having been hewn out for it's repose.
The chipping away took most of an hour to get the lid clear and the sides open.
There were many (1) spectators ... some layered in terriers.
When all else fails... and it did.... brute force brings results.
First look inside since it was sealed in 1921.
A group of letters (?) too decayed to even try to open... crumbled on touch.
There were several whole newspapers including the Kansas City Times and Kansas City Post. Very wet.

Several coins, pennies, were in and around the box as were Boys Home Tokens that are either copper or bronze.

More newspaper and a memorial Boys Home card.

"The only thing you take away with you after you're dead is what you've given away."
A ticket to Fairmount Park.
Ticket back.
Ticket front. B.P.O.E. is "Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks."
Note written in pencil... very hard to discern. Part of it says, "Board OK. Presented in dining room .... show board... Bren...... A. D."
Most of the contents were in this condition.
The box after removal. Brad has already restored its shape.
Some of the coins and tokens that were in the box and embedded in the mortar around it.
An American Flag pin.
Scans that Brad did of the front and back of one of the tokens. Another token scan is after the article below.
The building that these came from was the youngest of a complex of structures that housed homeless and orphaned boys. The first of the buildings in the complex was completed in 1911. This cornerstone was laid on November 6th, 1921. The building was razed about ten years ago in what has become a Kansas City tradition.... to create a surface parking lot.

What follows is a story Brad Finch wrote about the building 10 years ago as it was being razed.

Maybe you drove by the building every day and wondered what it used to be. Maybe you already knew. But if you drove by the site of the last remaining Boys' Hotel building at Admiral and Flora today, all you would see is flat ground.

The youngest building in what was once a small complex of buildings constructed to house orphaned and homeless boys had itself become an orphan. Demolition crews have been busy the last few weeks tearing down the lonely edifice, which had endured alone on the site for many years. The building stood as evidence not only of a place and time in history, but also of a way of thinking that today, seems to have been lost.

The Boys' Hotel was the idea of Juvenile Justice Judge Edward E. Porterfield. The Judge recognized the need for a place which homeless and orphaned teen-aged boys could go to for the home influences needed to stay out of trouble. Seeing that there were few alternatives for such youngsters other than the McCune Home for Youthful Offenders, maintained by Jackson County, and the State Reformatory at Boonville, Mo., Judge Porterfield began the first Boys' Hotel in 1908. He acquired the former home of a colleague, Judge Black, at 718 Woodland Ave. and started taking in boys under the age of 16. "The boys' hotel will be for boys who have no parents and are compelled to make their own living," said Judge Porterfield in an interview with the POST. It was to be a hotel in the strictest sense. "Boys who are able to pay for board and room will be charged the full amount," said Judge Porterfield. "The prices varying according to the wage drawn." The maximum charge was $3 a week, but no more than half a boy's weekly wage was drawn. Once a boy started making real money (over $10 a week), he was compelled to move out and give up his place to a boy less fortunate. At that point he was then capable of living in a respectable boarding house or other hotel.

The two-story brick residence was quickly filled with thirty young men, guests just as in any other hotel. "If they don't like the place, they leave," said Judge Porterfield. "And if they do like it they must try to follow the rule. That's all." And the rule? "Try to do right."

By the summer of 1910, it was obvious that the need for such an establishment greatly outweighed the capacity of the Boys' Hotel. In April and May of that year alone, over 50 boys each month were turned away for lack of space. A bigger building would have to be built.

Judge Porterfield began a fundraising effort for a new building, and money quickly came in. Contributors ranged from the bigwigs of Kansas City business such as William Volker, John Taylor, William E. Lyons, Clifford B. Sloan, the KC Brewing Co., and Muehlebach Brewing Co., all the way down to the Madison School pupils of Room 2. In all, over $62,000 was raised for the new Boys' Hotel.

A site was selected at Admiral Blvd. and Flora, just one block east of The Paseo. The 140x160 foot lot was purchased at a discount from the Ararat Temple of Shriners. Architects Root & Siemens designed a modern, three story, concrete and masonry building which would house up to 102 boys. The first floor would have living rooms, class rooms and a library, while the sleeping quarters would be on the upper floors. The basement was to have a gymnasium of 30x60 feet and a 20x30 foot game room. Ground was broken in April of 1911 and the building was completed in October of that same year. More money was then raised to furnish the building, and several rooms were adopted and furnished by individual people and societies. The library was equipped by the Daughters of the American Revolution, Mrs. E. S. Yoemans furnished the living room, and the Missouri Council of United Commercial Travelers equipped the hospital room.

A formal house-warming celebration took place October 21, 1911 and hundreds of friends of the institution were welcomed in for a light luncheon and tour. E. Harry Kelly's Orchestra provided the music. The guests were visibly impressed by the place. The living room was filled with large chairs and lounges and was dominated by an 11 foot wide fireplace. The library was done in dark oak and furnished with window seats complete with clear views of the well manicured lawns outside.

The sleeping rooms were set up to accommodate one, three or fifteen boys each. This was done on recommendations by juvenile authorities from around the country. The reason boiled down to this observation: "One boy himself is fairly sure to keep out of mischief, three or more serve to make a balance for good behavior, but two alone will raise the roof!"

All the costs of construction and furnishing the hotel were covered by donors, and nothing was left unpaid after the building opened. This allowed the hotel to operate without raising rates. It was calculated that the hotel would be self-sufficient with 80 boys in residence, a number they had no trouble reaching.

In November of 1912, Charles B. Hahn was appointed the superintendent of the Boys' Hotel. Hahn had been superintendent of the boys' department at the Independence Boulevard Christian Church since March of 1911 and began his work with boys as a parole officer in the juvenile court at Salt Lake City. It was a perfect fit.

The World War came soon thereafter, and 114 boys from the hotel went to serve their country. Eight never returned home. Thomas McArthur, Roland Stevenson, Floyd Evans, Thomas Hornaday, Raymond Crowe, Chandler Wright, Mathew Rumbaugh and George Tapscot were killed in action. Again, Judge Porterfield began fundraising. He wanted to build a memorial to those young men who had lost their lives in the great war. At the same time, Porterfield wanted to provide the swimming pool and assembly hall which had to be omitted from the original plan because of cost. Additionally, the swimming pool and assembly hall would not be for the exclusive use of Boys' Hotel residents, but for the entire neighborhood. It was an attractive proposition that quickly gained wide support.

Some of the larger contributions came from William Volker and Robert A. Long. In all, 18,000 people contributed $120,000 to complete the new building. Clifford B. Sloan was the architect. The building would be set back from the others to afford space for the memorial fountain and bench on which all the names of those who served would be inscribed. Over the main entrance would be a stone inscribed simply with "Memorial."

The cornerstone was laid by Judge Porterfield, surrounded by the boys and some of the donors, during a simple, quiet ceremony on November 6, 1921. The building was completed and a dedication ceremony took place in May of 1922. From then on, the swimming pool at the Boys' Hotel was one of the most popular spots in Northeast during the summer.

The Boys' Hotel closed in November of 1934. The depression had taken a huge toll on the Hotel's ability to provide services. In August of that year the hotel was occupied almost entirely of transient boys sent by the federal government. Only 10% had any job at all. Charles Hahn, Hotel Superintendent, gave the following reasons for the closing: "1. Boys could not find employment so [they] left the hotel and the city in search of work. 2. Boys who had employment left the hotel to help needy relatives. 3. Widowed mothers who became unemployed and had to have family relief wanted their boys with them to help increase the federal family relief money for their homes, thus removing boys from the care of the Boys' Hotel. Fewer fathers deserted their families when the financial burdens of the home were assumed by federal money, thus keeping the family together even if the conditions and influences were not good for the boys."

The old Boys' Hotel buildings, the oldest of which was eventually torn down, were used for a variety of purposes over the years. Only the Memorial building remained until just a few weeks ago. The Boys' Hotel had at its foundation a simple idea. That idea was best summarized by a KC STAR reporter in an article from December 17, 1916. "The worst injustice that can be done a healthy boy who has his own way to make in life is to give him something for nothing," he wrote. "For the boy who has a good home, the Boys' Hotel has little to offer, but the hotel is not intended for that sort of a boy. It offers the boy without a home a genuine bargain for his money. To the boy who demands something for nothing the hotel offers the full value of nothing - nothing at all."
Another token, front and back scanned by Brad.