The Kansas City Museum is Back

I’m happy to report that the Kansas City Museum has reopened and is well-worth visiting.

The museum is housed in Corinthian Hall, a spectacular 1910 mansion built by lumber baron Robert A. Long. The first floor of the home has been meticulously restored, and now displays much of the family’s original art and furnishings.

A walk through those well-proportioned rooms is a lesson in the values of wealthy Midwesterners at the turn of the 20th Century. For example, two gorgeous Steinways grace the receiving rooms, but both are player pianos as none of the Long family had taken piano lessons.

In my opinion the museum’s basement holds the best room in the house. The billiard room has been restored and furnished with balls and cue sticks. If billiards is not your game, you’ll find other board games set out around the room. Visitors can stay and play for up to an hour during their tour.

The Billiard Room

Across the hall from the billiard room is the historic Kirby Drug Store soda fountain, donated by the Kirby family in 1977. Though the soda fountain wasn’t operating during my recent tour, I hope it figures into the museum’s future plans. The room would make a great location for parties.

Stained-Glass Windows designed by architect Henry F. Hoit

Happily, the Kansas City Museum is more than just a restored mansion. Take the grand staircase to the second floor (stopping to admire the exquisite stained-glass windows on the landing), and you’ll find a Kansas City history exhibit, beginning with the native tribes that inhabited the area and continuing all the way to the end of the 20th century. Not only do the exhibits include the usual stories of stockyards, gangsters, and jazz, they also discuss the displacement of the Indians, women’s suffrage, and the Civil Rights movement.

The third floor holds information about collecting, curating, and preserving the artifacts of Kansas City history. We also found a wonderful exhibit about the El Toreon Ballroom at 31st and Gillham Road. The ballroom existed 1927-1934, after which the building had several other uses. In the 1970s it became the Cowtown Ballroom, known for bringing in big-name acts like Charlie Daniels, Steve Miller, and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. This exhibit included perhaps my favorite item in the museum: A mirror ball from the early days of El Toreon. Turns out, Disco didn’t invent the mirror ball after all.

Mirror ball from El Toreon ballroom

I would recommend the Kansas City Museum to anyone interested in old mansions or local history. Many of the history exhibits will interest kids from elementary school on up, and the billiard room makes this place a good spot for a date.

Greetings from the Kansas City Museum

6 comments

  1. Wonderful post, Jane, and I do like the look of your new website. The green color is pleasing and the banner at the top – perfect. On the Presentations page, you might want to add a list of the topics you speak on – especially as you are developing your “Day Trips” topic. How did it go at PrimeTimers?

    My trip to Emporia was fruitful and interesting. I had no idea of the downtown area – usually I’m entering or exiting the turnpike in Emporia. There is also a Historical Society downtown and an interesting Arts Council gallery – as well as lots of places to eat. The house will be perfect for a retreat and we settled on Friday / Saturday – March 25/26.

    We drove by William Allen White’s home – lovely, but the tours are only from April – Oct, so you’ll have to wait for another time to do that. However, there’s a wonderful chocolate shop downtown where you can find a treat to soothe your sweet tooth.

    I’m glad you’ve introduced your followers to your new site. Keep promoting it and the research behind your stories. Blessings on your weekend.

    RJ Thesman, CLC, BSE Author / Writing Coach / Editor / Speaker

    Website Facebook Author Page Twitter YouTube LinkedIn

    Keep Writing – Your Words Matter !

    ________________________________

    • I’m glad you like the direction Im going with the website. It’s a WIP so the presentations page isn’t finished yet.
      PrimeTimers went well. That talk is ready to go for other groups too. I didn’t sell many books, but that’s because I don’t have anything new.

  2. I’m not positive, but I believe I toured the Long mansion many years ago. The Kansas City symphony guild/fundraising assn. obtained permission to use abandoned mansions, then invited interior decorators to design individual rooms. People bought tickets to tour the transformed mansions. I think it was an excellent fund raiser, but it must have been a lot of work. Hmm. I’ll have to see if they still do that. I’ve been out of the loop for a long time. Duh.

    • You’re thinking of the Symphony’s Designer Showhouse, SuZan. I love that fundraiser! But Corinthian Hall has been the Kansas City Museum since 1940, so that particular mansion has not been a Showhouse.

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