Sunday, February 21, 2010

Headhunting at Corinthian Hall

Sunday was the monthly Hard Hat Tour at Corinthian Hall aka/Kansas City Museum. This tour date also saw the release of the latest Exhibit-in-Print by the Museum. "Faces" written by Elizabeth Rosin and Rachel Nugent, details the elaborate facial and figure ornamentation of the exterior and interior of the R.A. Long Mansion. I will show a few of them in this post... but be sure to stop by the Visitor's Center at the Museum to get your own copy.

This year Corinthian Hall is celebrating it's 100th birthday.... monetary gifts toward restoration are appreciated.
Above one-half of the north side of the mansion.... it was lightly snowing when we took the tour.
Christopher Leitch, right, and Elizabeth Rosin were our tour guides. We began at the rear of the Carriage House. Built in 1907 it was the first of the complex of buildings to be built at the site.... and, ironically, it will probably be the first to be restored.
Above, all new doors and windows have been installed already and match the originals perfectly.... except they will last a lot longer. This shows the view of the back of the main house showing the columned servants porch and the stained glass window.

The main area of the Carriage House where tack was kept and the hundreds of ribbons and trophies were exhibited. The large hole in the ceiling was used by an elevator which could raise and lower carriages as needed.
Many pictures still exist of the interiors of the building including the Carriage House. The only original interior parts that still exist from the Long's days are the ceiling in this portion and part of the floor in the area to the right. Portions of this building will be restored completely and will include showing 6 or more of the actual carriages the Longs used.
Taking in the view from the porch behind the servants quarters.
Above, the front (south) side of the Carriage House.. You can see the new doors and windows and where the entrance to the Natural History Hall was (green paint).
Above. Servants quarters... sans interior walls which were removed when this area was used for exhibit space. I covered the first floor renovation extensively in an earlier post:
Above, view out of the servants' window toward the south... below, looking at the skeleton of the servants quarters ceiling where HVAC and electrical are being completely redone.

By the front door the light stanchions feature rams heads under the light bulbs. At the time these were installed, 1910, electricity was just coming into it's own so this would have been "bragging" in a minor but showy way.
Plenty of detail in the carved limestone....below, a different head displayed under each of the second floor windows.

Elaborately carved urns celebrate 100 years of stair-step decoration.
The Salon has much in the way of mythological ornamentation in the walls and the ceiling... as shown below.

The Library is probably the most intact room in the house. The English design of the room is accented by the beautifully carved fire place with more of the Corinthian faces.
Below, a view from the west doors of the library out over the bluffs and Cliff Drive.

Marvelous detail above and below in the mantel.. This room will be a reading room when the restoration is complete.

Above and below... we went down to the Billiard Room which, for those of you familiar with past Museum exhibits, is where the model trains were. Surprisingly large area with the original floor and fireplace. This will be a meeting room when the building is completed.

Below, not to hard to determine the room's purpose with the crossed billiard sticks on the mantel.

Dining area with beautiful stained glass windows. The ceiling, below, has quite intricate designs which are slowly being uncovered as layers of paint are carefully removed.
Below, a view down the hall toward a front window...
The windows in the dining area feature ( it is thought ) Apollo.. below
And Zeus
And in the lower sections.... full length figures of mythical magic.

On Wednesday I'll have more photos of the renovation that's underway on the second and third floors.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Take A Hike

The Cliff Drive Scenic Byway has lots of opportunities to get some good exercise by walking the Drive or by hiking the Indian Mound Trail. I've created maps that show both the human hiking trails (red) and the routes the animals use (green) which are oftentimes usable by us as well. Blue represents water in either spring or pool form. The top map shows the Byway from Elmwood Ave. and Gladstone Boulevard east to Indian Mound and Belmont Ave. The bottom shows the Byway from Elmwood and Gladstone west to Scarritt Point and the midpoint access to the Drive. HyperHouse is indicated by a red dot on the top map.

Cliff Drive is closed each weekend to motorized traffic so it's a great time for a family hike. The Trail is moderate in difficulty but make sure footwear is waterproof.

Click on the images below to make them larger. These are stolen from Google Maps and marked up in Photoshop. The top map shows the Indian Mound portion of the Byway, the bottom shows the Scarritt Renaissance section.

Cliff Drive was created between 1890 and 1910. It was designed by George Kessler for whom the surrounding parkland is now named. Originally called North Terrace Park it was complemented by West Terrace Park which was adjacent to what is now Case Park by Quality Hill.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spring Year-round...

Hope springs eternal along Cliff Drive in the winter as springs constantly flow from the hillsides. The three below are just west of the waterfall by the eastern most entrance to the drive. Since the water flows from underground it is always around 60 degrees and doesn't freeze. Once it contacts the Drive it does though and this area is pretty much a skating rink until spring. The proliferation of springs along the bluffs... there are at least 12 from this point east to Indian Mound... is why the area was home to several Indian villages. The Natives were also fond of the plentiful game and high land... bluffs that allowed them to see who was coming. Also close to the Missouri and Blue Rivers.

It is my uninformed opinion that this hillside is probably home to multiple caves as the waters have been carving the limestone for hundreds of years.
Sometime I will go cave hunting.... several reliable neighbors have seen flocks/herds/covens of bats flying up from the bluff face in the evening as they start out on their hunt for insects. That's a sure sign of some bat condo... also known as "cave."
Above the Carl DiCapo Fountain ( i.e. The Waterfall ) lies dry in wait for spring that has never seemed further off to me.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

One Ballroom, Many Lives

This downtown Kansas City building has more lives than a cat. Originally it was to be a hotel but construction was begun in 1912 but not completed. The Kansas City Athletic Club then bought the unfinished structure and completed it in 1923. It remained the club until bought by the Continental group which converted the structure to a hotel.... the Athletic Club remained in the building until the 60s or 70s when it moved to Kansas City Kansas. During the Continental period the Kansas City Playboy Club was on the 22nd floor. Purchased again the building was refurbished for office space and is now known as the Mark Twain Tower. Now under new management several new leases have been signed.

The elegant room shown below was the ballroom for all the buildings incarnations. Today it is the Sawyer Room and is popular for weddings and other events. Each of the windows in the room has a unique design/logo in the center. I'm assuming those date to the Athletic Club Days and are logos for different teams.... although if someone knows for sure help me out!

President Truman used the club regularly before, during and after his Presidency. He was very keen on physical fitness.

Remnants of the old club facilities remain and the current management hopes to restore some to their former glory.

Below is first the exterior of the building at 11th and Baltimore. Then the entryway. The Ballroom takes up the fifth and sixth floors.

More pictures later including rooftop views (if we EVER get warmer weather). The building is the 20th tallest building in Kansas City at 24 floors.

Many thanks to Daw├▒a the building manager who allowed me to photograph this treasure!