By Tony O’Bryan
Hello! My name is Tony O’Bryan and I am a graduate student at UMKC finishing up a MA in History with a focus on 19th Century Missouri. I have dual BAs from UMKC, one in Secondary Ed and another in History and I am thrilled to be involved in the History Department’s Public History program. I specialize in the history of the greater Kansas City region and this internship opportunity is not only right up my alley of expertise, it is also my exact area of interest and study.
I will doing archival work, research for museum exhibit design, and developing curriculum content for the Wornall/Major’s House Museum community education programs. While working at the Wornall House I will get to witness firsthand some of the construction work and foundation repair that was begun to save the south wall of the old house from buckling. You can see in the photo how the construction crews have braced some of their repair work.
I will feel right at home on a construction site. Before I returned to college full-time I spent 17 years in the construction trades in Kansas City. I have seen many regional historic homes and buildings quite literally from the inside out and these old buildings always interest me the most. According to the common narrative this house was built with the labor of just four enslaved African-Americans and two free white laborers who worked for John Wornall. The bricks were manufactured on the site.
When I see the massive size of the foundation stones of the Wornall House I always say to myself, “Just six guys to lay those huge blocks and make all those bricks? No way!”
Maybe I will find out how they did it when I begin my work at Wornall House. I cannot wait.