Around the Town Thursday: Kansas City Livestock Exchange Building

Happy Friday eve everyone and welcome to another edition of Around the Town Thursday!  Today we’re back to exploring Kansas City and we’re highlighting the Kansas City Livestock Exchange Building.


Front of Kansas City Livestock Exchange Building

 


Entrance to the Kansas City Livestock Exchange Building

Originally built in 1910, the Livestock Exchange Building was the headquarters of the Kansas City stockyards.  According to the National Register of Historic Places application: “At the turn of the century the stock yards covered 207 acres with accommodations for 70,000 cattle, 40,000 hogs, 45,000 sheep and 5,000 horses and mules daily. By 1871 seven railroads were operating in the stock yards; today there are over ten miles of track inside the yards excluding acres and acres of track to the east and west.”

The stockyards themselves were originally established in 1871 in Kansas City, Kansas along the Kansas River and Missouri Pacific railroad tracks.  According to the Kansas City Kansan newspaper article “How KC became 1 of great stock markets of world”: “In the heyday year of 1923, 2,631,808 cattle were received at the Kansas City yards.”  The stockyards originally contained five acres and by 1883 another 125 acres had been added.  While there were earlier buildings erected on the grounds of the stockyards, the brick building that currently stands is considered the highlight of the period from 1871 to 1909.

Currently (after a thirteen million dollar renovation in 1991) the building serves as an office building, containing everything from restaurant facilities to a post office to a health club.  While not ornate in decor the building has beautiful original oak woodwork and a simple, yet beautiful Grecian key floor border.

This important piece of Kansas City history has withstood time, floods and the closing of the Livestock Exchange.  It’s now a part of the National Register of Historic Places, which will provide the opportunity for future generations to actually see this beautiful building.

Around the Town Thursday: The Money Museum at Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  We’ve got a nice little post for you to read while you’re enjoying your good food.  Today we’re peeking in at The Money Museum at Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.


The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
The Money Museum is located inside the Federal Reserve Bank

The Money Museum gives visitors the opportunity to watch millions of dollars of currency be processed, check out some interesting exhibits and learn about the economy all in one visit.  And the best part of all of this is that it’s free to view!

Reservations are not required to tour this museum for groups of 20 or fewer but you will need to go thru a security screening to get in.  You can sign up for a guided tour for groups of 15 or more.

Hours of operation, parking and accessibility information and information regarding security screening can be found here for the museum.  For a little prep for your tour you can check out highlights of the Money Museum here.  The museum recommends approximately one hour to complete the self-guided tour.  It’s right next door to the National World War I Museum at the Liberty Memorial, however, so you can make a day of it and tour both museums!

This museum is definitely worth your time, so make plans to go learn all about the economy and the currency process at The Money Museum at Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

And make sure to stop by next week for a very special Around the Town Thursday post!  We definitely won’t be in Kansas anymore!

Lest We Forget: The Poppy

Today is Veterans Day and today’s post is dedicated to all those who have served and all those who are currently serving.  Thank you all for your service and sacrifice!

Today being Veterans Day, you may notice that some people are wearing poppies today.  Do you know the significance of the poppy on Veterans Day?  Originally, the poppies were only worn on Memorial Day but many groups have opted to also wear the poppies on Veterans Day (also known as Remembrance Day).  Veterans Day honors all those who served in the military, whether in wartime or in peacetime.  It falls on the day the World War I hostilities officially ended, “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” in 1918.  But why poppies?

The significance of the poppy goes back to World War I and the poem “In Flanders Fields” written in 1915 by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian physician who served during World War I.  McCrae wrote the poem after presiding over the funeral of a friend and comrade.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amidst the guns below

We are the Dead.  Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Flanders fields refer to World War I battlefields in an area near Belgium which is now known as West Flanders, East Flanders and part of the French region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais.  The Second Battle of Ypres occurred here, which is the battle that McCrae’s friend died in and helped to prompt the writing of “In Flanders Fields”.  After all the devastation on these battlefields in World War I, poppies began to bloom in the battlefields.  The only thing that could survive in the devastation, the poppies were able to bloom due to the fact that they are a plant that thrives on disturbed ground.  The seeds lie dormant until the soil is broken up, and then the flowers take root and begin to grow.

After writing the poem, it was submitted to newspapers in England.  It was rejected by The Spectator but published by Punch on 8 December 1915.  The poem was read by Moina Michael, an U.S. professor and humanitarian, who was so moved that she wrote the poem “We Shall Keep the Faith” in reply to McCrae’s poem:

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.
In Flanders Fields we fought.

According to the American Legion Auxiliary Poppy site, in November 1918 on an impulse, Moina Michael purchased all the poppies that New York City’s Wanamaker’s Department Store had in the store and handed them to businessmen meeting at the YMCA where she worked and asked them to wear the poppy as a tribute to the fallen.  The idea of selling silk poppies is credited to Michael as a way to raise funds to assist disabled veterans.  In 1921, the American Legion Auxiliary adopted the poppy as a symbol of remembrance for war veterans.

And now you know the story of the poppy.

Lest we forget.

Around the Town Thursday: Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall

It’s Thursday and time for another edition of Around the Town Thursday.  In the spotlight today is a historic building that’s very near and dear to my heart: Corinthian Hall.


South facade (front) of Corinthian Hall

 


Porte cochere with bronze and wire glass canopy

Many local residents might know this building as the Kansas City Museum of History and Science, which it did house for many years.

Many Kansas Citians may remember such icons as the igloo on the third floor, the covered wagon on the first floor and the tepee display on the first floor of the museum.  And who could forget the Natural History Hall housed in the carriage house which was full of stuffed animals contained in lifelike dioramas of natural habitats of each animal.  I’m sure many of us remember the bear at the end of the hall!

But what many visitors of this hallowed institution may not know is the fabulous history of this building and its residents.  Kansas City has a wonderful history tied directly to the builder of this home: Robert A. Long.

Robert A. Long was many things but he’s most well-known in the Kansas City area for being a lumber baron, philanthropist and driving force behind the Liberty Memorial (now known as the National World War I Museum at the Liberty Memorial).  He was also instrumental in the building of several other buildings in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

According to the Friends of Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall website, “Corinthian Hall, one of Kansas City’s larges and most well-known residences, began its life not as a plan for a mansion, but as a plan for a stable.”  According to Robert Long’s daughter, Loula Long Combs, Robert saw the need for a new stable and decided the family should also have a new home to go with it.  That decision lead to the creation of Corinthian Hall.  Referred to as Corinthian Hall because of the six Corinthian columns located in the front of the house, Corinthian Hall boasted approximately 50,000 square feet of space which was broken down into three floors containing approximately 70 rooms and closets, 15 bathrooms, nine fireplaces, an attic and a basement containing a full-length bowling alley.  The home was completed in 1910 and the Long family resided there until Robert Long’s death in 1934.

The building is absolutely gorgeous on the outside and inside.  Right now, with the restoration going on, you have to enter the grounds from the North side of the grounds.  But oh!  What an entrance.  If you happen to go during the spring and summer the wisteria may very well be in bloom on the pergolas and its so pleasant to just be able to sit on a stone bench, under the wisteria-covered pergolas and enjoy the shade and beauty of the grounds.


North entrance of the grounds of Corinthian Hall, partially showing the pergola and wisteria

 


Pergola and wisteria at Corinthian Hall

Access to Corinthian Hall is currently restricted to hard hat and guided exhibit tours.  I can’t recommend the hard hat tour enough.  It’s a great tour and gives visitors a great deal of insight into the history and current renovations going on.  You can see where the renovations stand now, hear about previous phases of the renovations and learn about future plans for the museum.  The stained glass, original walls and floors, grand staircase and other fancy bits are a beauty to behold, even now during renovations.  One can only imagine what the grandeur might be like when the renovations are complete.  Information on the hard hat tours can be found here.


Grand staircase

 


Beautiful stained glass window at the top of the Grand Staircase

 


Stained glass bay window in the dining room

 


Close up of stained glass bay window in the dining room

 


Close up of stained glass bay window in the dining room

 


Stained glass sunlight in the sun room

 


Decorative corner moulding located in the Grand Salon

There’s a fantastic timeline of the history of the museum on the Kansas City Museum‘s website but the short and sweet is that after Robert Long’s death in 1934 the house sat empty until 1939 when the Kansas City Museum opened it’s doors within the house.  The buildings and grounds were put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.  In 1999, the association which managed the museum merged with the entity which managed Union Station and in 2001 the two entities merged and incorporated.  In 2005, the museum embarked on it’s current path of restoration from the museum of the 1950s-1980s back into the R.A. Long home known as Corinthian Hall.

Personally I’m very excited to see the restoration continue on Corinthian Hall.  I’ve watched the restoration as its moved through each of its phases thus far in the process and, while it takes a great deal of time, I’m confident that the results will be well worth the wait.

Museum admission is currently free while the renovations are going on.  Current hours can be found here.  There are some very interesting current exhibits to be seen during your visit and don’t forget to check out their great adult and family programs that are currently available.

The few pictures I’ve included in this post are just a few of the gorgeous elements of Corinthian Hall.  Take a day to stop by and see this historic gem, take a hard hat tour, walk around the grounds and check out the beauty.  It’ll be worth your time.

Around the Town Thursday: Pirtle Winery

Welcome to another edition of Around the Town Thursday!  I’m very excited for today’s post, for two reasons: first and foremost, it’s a winery.  If that’s not enough there’s the second reason, it’s a winery in a church building.  Oh but it gets better!  The old church Pirtle Winery resides in is a Lutheran Evangelical Church that was built by German immigrants.  Being Lutheran I find that very humorous.  So for me, it just doesn’t get much better than that, LOL!  Until you get to the wine, that is.

Pirtle Winery has been open since 1978.  According to their About Us page, they’ve been family owned and operated since they opened.  What a great history to be able to claim.  Located in Weston, Missouri, they’re a must stop on the Missouri Wine Trail.

Their wine line up contains the expected red and white grape varieties, but it also contains some fruit varieties such as apple, blueberry and cherry chocolate.  An unexpected treat that you’ll find on their wine list is mead.  If you’ve never experienced mead, you should try it at least once.  What is mead?  The simple definition is that it’s a wine made of honey.  Here’s a good article on mead (courtesy of About.com).  While many wineries tend to stay away from mead, Pirtle embraces it.  There are currently three different types of mead listed for sale on Pirtle’s website.  While I’m not personally a mead fan, I highly recommend stopping by to try Pirtle’s mead (and other wines, of course).

When you stop in at Pirtle, allow yourself a little time to look around.  Pirtle has an indoor winegarden and wine bar (a new feature I haven’t seen yet) which can be enjoyed but if you’re there on a nice day, make it a point to buy a bottle of Pirtle wine, step outside to their vine-covered outdoor wine garden (located between the winery and press house), sit and enjoy the day and your wine.  You won’t regret the time spent there.