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.

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About Danni 116 Articles
Join me on my genealogical journey where I hope my experiences, discoveries, mistakes and successes will help you on your journey. We'll throw in some bits of history for a little flavor and that is what makes up Talking Box Genealogy.

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