By Matthew Reeves
It isn’t everyday that UMKC students get to pass through the metal detectors at City Hall, but last Thursday, Dr. Cantwell, Natalie and I did just that. We were on our way up to the 16th floor, more specifically, the Kansas City Historic Preservation Office. Dr. Wolf, the city’s Historic Preservation Officer, will be heading up our internship project. We met with him to find out more.
After a quick elevator ride, we intrepid HistoryMakers stepped out onto the sixteenth floor. The Historic Preservation Office is, in many ways, exactly what you’d expect: a small reception area, a few cubicles, and then stack upon stack of records stored in filing cabinets, three-ring binders, and card catalogues. There are even a few genuine well-worn historical atlases that help tell the tale of KC’s historic built environment.
Seated at a conference table, we discussed our project, a revision and reissue of Kansas City: A Place in Time. Dr. Wolf showed us a copy of the last printing, from 1977. The tall, narrow volume resembles a pamphlet on steroids. A Place in Time contains images of Kansas City’s most notable historic buildings, combined with a short (1 paragraph) architectural and historical synopsis of each property. The last printing included fewer than 200 listings, but for our project, we interns will be doing research and writing on many more locations.
Part of the revision includes combining and redefining some historic neighborhood boundaries. For instance, in the 1977 edition, there were separate sections for the Westside, Downtown, and the Northeast. Now, those sections have been combined into one district, as you can see listed on the map below (I’m sure we’ll come up with a better name than “Downtown/Westside/Northeast,” but it works as a placeholder for now).
Natalie and I divided the workload by district; I took Downtown/Westside/Northeast, Crossroads/Midtown/Westport, and Martin City/Hickman/Little Blue. Armed with our spreadsheets and typed printouts of the extant building descriptions from the previous edition, we are officially on the job! After a brief tour of the City Council Chambers, Dr. Wolf returned to his office, and we from UMKC ventured back to campus. There’s lots of work to be done.