by KELSEY CIPOLLA | photos courtesy of SIDELINES CUSTOM FLORAL DESIGNS
Karyn Brooke, founder of Sidelines Custom Floral Designs, has one simple piece of advice for decorating your home for the holidays.
“When you walk in, it should make you happy,” she says. Of course, that’s a good guiding principle when it comes to choosing your décor any time of year, but it feels especially appropriate during a season filled with so many memories and traditions.
DECKING THE HALLS
The florist and design pro, who decorates both residential and commercial spaces for the holidays, says some of the clients she works with are starting from scratch, while others may have favorite pieces they want to incorporate into their festive décor. Regardless of where you’re beginning the decorating process, keep basic design principles in mind, she advises. The style of your home can help you determine the aesthetic that will work best, and pay attention to your physical space – high ceilings call for a bigger Christmas tree, for instance. Your decorations may also depend on your household.
“If you have a house with little kids, you’re going to want bright colors and fun things and snowmen; those things they just love to look at,” Brooke says. For couples who find themselves with an empty nest for the first time, a more refined look might be called for.
Aim to highlight pieces you love, whether they’re family treasures or new finds, and don’t feel constrained by a traditional holiday color palette. Consider playing off colors present in your everyday décor for an unexpected look that works with your existing pieces, she says. Homes decorated in more neutral tones can serve as the perfect backdrop for punchier colors, or stay in line with your home’s aesthetic and opt for elegant all-white decorations or white and silver items. Gold has also made a major comeback in the last few years.
Brooke says garland lights are gaining popularity, too. The strands, which consist of many tiny lights bundled together, provide major visual impact and can be used inside or out, Brooke notes.
GO GREEN AND TAKE IT EASY
“I love the incorporation of real holiday plants in with artificial because the vast majority of people don’t do fresh trees,” Brooke says. “Arrangements of fresh-cut greens get that fragrance throughout the house, which is awesome, and that can be something that you do a week or two before Christmas.”
Blooming amaryllis is a favorite for the season, along with paperwhite narcissus and poinsettias, which are now being grown in unusual colors, she adds.
Since the most wonderful time of the year often ends up being the most hectic time of the year for many of us, plants or small touches like simple garlands or decorative bundles on nightstand tables can serve as a fun change to your day-to-day style without requiring much effort, Brooke says. And don’t underestimate the power of introducing a seasonal fragrance, be it through scented candles or potpourri.
Decorating for the winter season rather than the holidays can also help save time and prevent stress. Brooke notes taking a more general approach and adding accents like trendy blue and white jars and snow-covered branches provide a fresh look with a longer life – so you can enjoy the New Year rather than worrying about taking down nowout- of-season items.
Perhaps the most significant way to quickly add a dose of holiday cheer is to focus on your tree, whether it’s a table-top model or a creatively decorated artificial tree.
“You can take a plain green tree and fill it with Christmas lights, you can put some fake snow on the branches, you can add snowball arrangements, you can add silver, you can add crystal, you can add any of those things and it would be very simple and change a room,” Brooke says.
MAKE IT PERSONAL
In her own home, Brooke says each room has its own personality for the holidays. The dining room is more vintage while her living room has a Western feel because of its year-round décor. The spaces are tied together with ornaments.
“I like glass ornaments – the more color, the more detail, the older they are, the more they make me happy,” she says. Her tree is gold wire and adorned with treasured ornaments passed down from her mother.
Brooke’s collection of vintage reindeer also has sentimental roots. Every year, her father would buy her mother a centerpiece decorated with the red velvet reindeers with silver glitter antlers and noses from a flower shop on Troost Avenue, and Brooke’s mother saved many of them over the years.
“It just reminds me of my dad coming home and making my mom so happy with a Christmas centerpiece,” she says.
Incorporating those cherished items can be what makes a house feel like home during the holidays, and there’s always a way to tie them into your décor, she says, whether it’s by surrounding them with greenery or grouping several items together with glass balls and other seasonal accents.
“Everybody’s Christmas is so different, and the options are just endless,” Brooke says. “I think that’s the fun.”
by ROBERT HELLWEG
It is well documented that Kansas City is a philanthropic city; our residents support great causes and initiatives. In doing research on nonprofits, we found this mantel of giving has been taken up by four Pembroke Seniors: Michael Innes, Ethan Angrist, Matthew Berkley, and Grace Parkerson, who formed a group called “Guys & Gals Giving Grants” to raise funds for Harmony Project KC.
Harmony Project KC, based at the Northeast Community Center provides tuition-free, intense, orchestral music instruction, practice, and performance opportunities, building an orchestra with diverse young people in their own neighborhoods, after school and weekends, year-round, in a safe environment. “The program does not solely focus on the musical aspect but also on their academics, social skills, and responsibility,” Innes explained.
Berkley added, “Our first goal was to spread awareness about Harmony Project KC; then we concentrated on asking for funding so more kids could attend.”
These four young philanthropists worked for six months researching, drafting letters, and creating a presentation. They’ve been meeting with everyone from CEOs and the heads of charitable foundations to their own grandparents and classmates’ parents. “After reaching out to family and friends, we started researching local foundations that support at-risk kids, education, and the arts,” Angrist said. “Then making phone calls and getting appointments with funders. It was harder than any of us expected.”
The hard work has paid off for the kids at Harmony Project, as Guys & Gals Giving Grants has raised almost $20,000 of its $30,000 goal.
“It’s definitely been eye-opening,” Parkerson said. “We really had to sell ourselves and the program to people who didn’t really know us or the program at all. But once we got in the door, the program sold itself.”
“We are fortunate to have compassionate young people willing to engage with and commit to their community; it bodes well for our future,” said Laura Shultz, executive director of the Northeast Community Center and Harmony Project KC.
by PAIGE O’CONNOR
In her journal, “M” wrote that she was sexually abused by a family member when she was younger and that she didn’t like to go to school because she couldn’t read or write well. Was it a call for help or just a statement of truth? When asked if she wanted help she said she did, but as a minor, a parent’s or guardian’s permission is essential. When we asked, we were granted permission to have her tested academically, but we were not given permission to seek outside professional help for her past abuse. At the age of 15, our shy, withdrawn student tested at the first-grade level of reading and writing. Today, she is a productive community member, working while taking college courses.
“T” is one of 10 children in a family. Five are in prison, four for murder and one for armed bank robbery; three joined the military to escape their environment; and one graduated high school and is working odd jobs. Against all odds, “T” is now a student at UMKC and the first in her family to go to college.
And “K,” as a child, lived through many of her mother’s men. The last husband, “a good man,” was a crack addict who stole birthday money, Christmas presents, and beat her sister when she didn’t have money for more crack. “K” went to KU, is married, a mother of twins, and she and her husband, both past Ambassadors, currently are two of Youth Ambassadors’ finest teachers.
Youth Ambassadors (YA), a local nonprofit organization established in 2010, serves underserved teenagers, a substantial portion of whom have a history of multiple trauma exposure and who continue to live in compromising circumstances that often create barriers to their own success. Unabated intergenerational poverty, single-parent households, the continuation of blighted infrastructures, high unemployment, underemployment, transiency, and teenage incarceration rates are among the myriad of problems our youth face.
Due to countless risk factors, our Ambassadors like “M,” “T,” and “K,” require positive role models and targeted support systems in order to work through personal barriers and reach their full potential. YA recognizes that empowering youth with life skills, job skills, social emotional learning and opportunities for creative expression contributes to the ultimate goal: that youth successfully transition into adulthood with the aspiration and skills to drive their education and employment opportunities.
A 2017 study by The Pennsylvania State University with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has shown the benefits of investing in social emotional health are increasingly evident. Research shows that “good social emotional skills can lead to better education, employment, and physical and mental health, and to fewer problems with substance abuse and antisocial behavior or relationships.” Key findings of the study showed that students were more successful in the learning environment and that they were more likely to graduate from both high school and college. In effect, they are more likely to get jobs, and jobs with higher paying salaries, which is a benefit to the individual and society as a whole. Developing better social emotional skills also helps individuals lead healthy lives and avoid risky behavior, which can contribute to physical and mental health problems, substance abuse, delinquency, and crime. The study concludes that investing in SEL programming generates positive impact for individuals and society, as well as a positive impact on overall population health.
Youth Ambassadors is designed as an educational, employment program. Ambassadors are paid minimum wage to take four classes daily: Life and Job Skills, Art, Writing, and either Health, Speech, Financial Literacy, or Critical Consciousness & Employment Opportunities. In addition, they are taught that they are resilient and their voice matters. They alone can speak for themselves, so they are taught advocacy skills essential for positive change.
Annually, Youth Ambassadors provides employment to over 300 teenagers during non-school hours when youth are most susceptible to negative influences. Existing programming includes an eight-week summer intensive and an academic year Saturday academy. Small class sizes, with a ratio of seven to 10 students to every teacher, develop close student-mentor relationships and teach targeted skills through interactive teaching methods, including two-way teaching, team idea mapping, and discussion groups.
It takes every stakeholder together to solve the problems of poverty, trauma, and poor schooling. Youth Ambassadors believes each one of our teenage youth is the future of our community. Thanks to supporters, volunteers, and various community partners, we are able to empower teenage youth, building skills and competencies that allow them to be successful in their present daily lives and future endeavors.
words by EMILY & STEWART LANE | photos by ANNA PETROW
As a couple who frequents the restaurant scene in Kansas City, we try our best to keep our finger on the pulse of what is new and innovative in our local food scene. The year 2017 has brought about two places in particular that have become stops for us on a routine basis, and now we cannot imagine our city without them. We’re delighted to share our take on Corvino Supper Club and The Monarch Bar.
EL: Our first visit to Corvino Supper Club was so memorable. It was the last date we went on before leaving for our wedding in Colorado, so we were feeling pretty celebratory. That said, it doesn’t take an occasion to have the sense that something special is happening at Corvino, as every gorgeous detail makes you believe they were waiting especially for you. It’s dark, moody, elegant yet unpretentious, and, if you’re lucky, you might have someone playing the upright bass or piano on stage. The waitstaff is knowledgeable and patient, explaining things precisely and humbly. They all seem truly proud to be serving the food that Chef Corvino is creating. And starting our meal with glasses of the 2013 Argyle Brut sparkling wine from Willamette Valley, Oregon, kicked off everything on the right foot.
SL: Then we moved on to perusing the menu. It is arranged from light to heavy and allows the diner to enjoy several small plates rather than one entrée. We love eating that way, where we can share and enjoy a variety of flavors and textures.
Chef Michael Corvino’s food comes to the table as if it was pulled from a photo shoot. His plating style is elegant but relaxed, an organic approach that mirrors his quality of ingredients. The fried chicken ssam, with crisp darkmeat chicken served with tender lettuce and homemade hot sauce, was an elevation to all other chicken dishes. If you’re feeling indulgent, the made-for-two (or more) dry-aged bone-in rib-eye is an experience worth having. And the steak tartare, topped with a smoked béarnaise and pickled mustard seeds, reinvents the age-old classic. That’s a repeat order for me.
EL: Speaking of repeat orders. . . I think I’ve requested we order the chicken ssam every time we’ve been in there since, haven’t I? It’s so satisfying. One thing that I really love about the bar situation is that they feature several wines on tap from Proletariat Wine Company, one of the first keg-only wineries. I think it’s a nice nod to Chef Corvino’s hometown of Walla Walla, Washington (where the winery is based), and I love that it’s more environmentally conscious.
SL: Speaking of environment, the entire atmosphere of Corvino Supper Club changes at 10 p.m. when the late-night menu, featuring the famous Corvino cheeseburger, starts up, along with some of the best live music in Kansas City. And leaning into my wife’s love of all things sweet, the late-night desserts, like ice cream sandwiches or darkchocolate brownies, showcase perfection in their simplicity.
EL: Chef Corvino and his wife/ business partner, Christina, haven’t missed a detail. From the atmosphere, to the food and bar menu, to earthenware plates on the tables, and the napkins printed with the signature Corvino raven, their care and love of this place shines through each and every time we visit.
SL: They also feature an intimate Tasting Room (by reservation only, a two-and-a-half-hour experience) complete with wine pairings.
Needless to say, our first visit to Corvino Supper Club wasn’t our last, and we look forward to enjoying more visits for years to come.
Corvino Supper Club, located at 1830 Walnut, is open Monday– Saturday beginning at 4 p.m. Reservations recommended.
by ERIC LINEBARGER
As an architect who specializes in corporate offices, I spend a great deal of time thinking about the impact of the modern workplace. After all, more than 35 percent of our lives is spent working, most commonly in traditional office environments. We spend nearly as much time in our workplaces as we do awake in our own homes. And the research shows that the design of our workplaces has a dramatic impact on our happiness, motivation, and even our health.
Today’s workforce values a collaborative and authentic culture, quality of life perks, and flexible work environments more than ever before. This undeniable shift is evidenced in spaces throughout the city that are adapting to meet the needs of the modern employee in intuitive and creative ways.
Here’s a closer look at three local workplaces that embody the evolution of the modern office environment.
DAIRY FARMERS OF AMERICA HEADQUARTERS
Attracting and Retaining Talent
The design of a new three-story headquarters for Dairy Farmers of America, the nation’s largest milk marketing cooperative, pays tribute to the 15,000 dairy farmer owners the organization represents while communicating its global reach. The design uses every program element and design detail – from a milk bar to blackened steel silverware – as an opportunity to tell DFA’s functional and cultural stories. The space is chock-full of amenities, from bocce ball to a fitness studio, creating a space to attract and engage the best and brightest. The open office is a cultural change for DFA. Its previous office had more than 176 closed offices. The new space, which opened in May, has just 10. To promote collaboration, the workplace has more than 100 meeting rooms for a staff population of fewer than 500 people. Even the CEO’s workspace can be easily converted into a shared meeting space.
Individual workstations have personal storage wardrobes and height-adjustable desks. Custom wood screens at each workstation provide privacy and connections to the farmers they serve. This transition to workstations that provide the individual employee flexibility subtly reinforces the organization’s people-first mentality.
AMC THEATRES HEADQUARTERS
Telling a Brand Story
The new AMC Theatre Support Center in Leawood, Kansas, is an image of efficiency and innovation, uniquely tailored to help AMC meet its goals for driving reinvention and growth in the theater business. The building creates a layered and visually interesting experience for employees and visitors and turns the idea of office building on its head, with fun communal spaces and expansive outdoor patios to give employees a reprieve from the workplace.
The interior of the new Theatre Support Center is fresh and bright with project teams grouped into “neighborhoods” within the open and flexible floor plan. A bold white, black, and red color scheme is carried throughout the interior offices and meeting rooms and numerous whiteboard surfaces offer a backdrop for continuous brainstorming and idea sharing. Each floor has a kitchenette/break room, conference areas, and workspaces. Details like a graphic history wall and creative graphics inspired by movie posters tell current and future employees about AMC’s rich legacy.
POLSINELLI PLAZA VISTA
Building Workplace Design Standards
Designed to showcase views of Country Club Plaza, the interior environment for Polsinelli’s 450 employees at Plaza Vista is timeless and metropolitan. A sevenstory, cantilevered stairwell winds through the center of the building and acts like a sculptural wood ribbon that creates visual and physical connectivity.
The plan’s strategic adjacencies optimize operational efficiencies and give Polsinelli the flexibility to reconfigure the layout. Polsinelli’s modern work environment features collaborative seating areas throughout the building and sit-stand workstations in all administrative and associate offices. Multipurpose training rooms provide space mock trials, while the hospitality lounge provides flexible seating options. Hospitality lounges and a modern sophistication make the Polsinelli project one that is informing the design of law offices across the nation. The workplace design standards developed at Plaza Vista have impacted the way the rapidly growing law firm incorporates its brand into its spaces across the country. In each city, the space is distinctly “Polsinelli” but with local art, amenities, and hospitality spaces that reflect the culture of the community.
Polsinelli’s Allison Berey, chief marketing officer, told MetroWireMedia of the Plaza Vista project, “It was a complete rebrand in terms of our brand strategy: the design, the creative execution, and the underlying value proposition we developed and started to convey to the workplace. If you look back at the historical architecture of our buildings and brand, it really was a different level of sophistication than where we are now. It was far more traditional. Now we’ve really moved in this direction of a more contemporary brand design and architecture. We’re ensuring that the vision for our space nicely aligns with the brand we are building nationally.”
In each of these cases, we see the workplace function as an extension of broader organizational growth and cultural goals. Smart facility managers and executives understand that people are their chief currency and most important asset. In turn, the workplace needs to be tailored to meet their needs. Whether that’s a bocce ball court, daycare offerings, or a full-service kitchen, these amenities should be responsive to the unique makeup of the employees. And this means executives have to be willing to ask questions, honestly evaluate their existing work environments, adjust corporate policies, and better understand the amenities that would make their organization a desirable place to work.
By doing this, we stop thinking of offices as simply a place people go and, instead, take a cue from DFA, AMC, and Polsinelli and think of office spaces as the heartbeat of a company.
by JANETTE SLUSHER
Anyone who has personally walked through a serious illness or life-changing event, or walked alongside a friend or family member going through a difficult time, knows how transformative it can be to be able to use the experience to help others who will follow in a similar path. Whether you call it “finding your purpose” or “paying it forward,” turning a difficult time into something beautiful can be an incredibly rewarding experience for both the giver and the receiver.
In the fall of 2015, Amy Taitt, a Kansas City native
and nurse by trade, heard through a friend about The Healing Chair, a nonprofit organization that was making a positive impact for mastectomy patients in the St. Louis area. By loaning patients reclining lift chairs upon returning home from the hospital, The Healing Chair’s mission is to provide comfort, community, support, and encouragement to aid in the women’s healing and recovery.
The Healing Chair was started in St. Louis when a group of women decided to raise money to purchase a lift chair for their friend, Carol Mullinex, after her mastectomy surgery. After experiencing the benefits of the chair during her recovery, Carol decided that other mastectomy patients would also benefit from using it, so she began passing it around town as she heard about someone in need. She soon realized this could be an incredible service to help other women, but could also be the vehicle that would allow her to serve other mastectomy patients in the longer term. She set out to create the service as a nonprofit organization, and The Healing Chair was born.
Intrigued by The Healing Chair’s mission and how much it benefited her friend in St. Louis, Amy realized the need for this service in Kansas City. She immediately reached out to two local friends, Marcia Moroney and Janette Slusher, both breast cancer survivors, to share her excitement about the possibility of bringing the idea to Kansas City. With Marcia and Janette immediately on board, they had a team of three women who were passionate about giving back and helping others, feeling blessed to be able to do so in a very special and unique way.
By October 2015, after contacting the St. Louis founder and working with her to replicate the charity in Kansas City, the team found itself with one chair (seeded from St. Louis), one recipient, and the green light to start a Healing Chair chapter in Kansas City.
Through fundraisers with Tequila Harry’s Mexican Restaurant, Kendra Scott Jewelry, and additional donations from family and friends, the team raised enough money to purchase several chairs, partnered with Crowley Furniture to purchase them at a discount.
By connecting with breast surgeons, plastic surgeons, breast cancer nurse navigators, and local hospitals, launching a Facebook page (The Healing Chair – Kansas City), and sharing about the charity via word of mouth, the requests for chairs started pouring in, and chairs started making the rounds in Kansas City. Today, the charity has 32 chairs in rotation in Kansas City and has helped over 250 women feel loved and encouraged before, during, and after their surgeries.
So how does this work? Once a request for a chair is received, the team contacts the patient to work through details for the delivery, setup, and return of the chair. Chairs are normally loaned out for about 30 days, and, oftentimes, recipients enjoy assisting with delivering the chair to the next recipient.
As important as the chair is to the healing and recovery process, Amy, Marcia, and Janette feel strongly that it’s “more than just a chair” and making a personal connection with each recipient is just as important as the chair itself. Therefore, at least one of them is present for every delivery. In addition to the chair, the recipient also receives a soft, cozy blanket, monogrammed with The Healing Chair logo, hers to keep after she is done using the chair.
In addition, each chair is named in honor of a loved one, organization, or business that sponsored the chair. An accompanying journal travels with each chair, which gives each recipient the opportunity to read the stories of the prior recipients and to journal about her own experience, which then gets passed to the next recipient.
The Healing Chair was the local beneficiary of Kendra Scott’s “buy one, gift one event” last October. At the conclusion of this event, the Kendra Scott organization gifted one piece of jewelry for every piece purchased during the event to The Healing Chair. These pieces of jewelry are then gifted to recipients at the time of the chair delivery.
The Healing Chair is so grateful for the generosity of the Kansas City community through financial support and to the countless volunteers who give of their time to help with deliveries and for fulfilling other needs from time to time.
As difficult as it is to see how many women need the service, it’s been such a blessing to be able to help so many women going through a difficult and scary time.
by KELSEY CIPOLLA | Portfolio photos by DAWN CONNERS | Roth photos courtesy of ROTH LIVING
With a bevy of state-of-the-art appliances and customizable storage solutions becoming kitchen stars, the current look is less about bowing to what is of the moment and more a reflection how we live, cook, and gather with family and friends — with an eye toward beautiful design, of course.
“It’s all about embracing lifestyle,” says Geri Higgins, owner of Portfolio Kitchen & Home. “It’s not just the aesthetics, it’s the ritual of how we go about things in the most elevated way.”
TECHNOLOGY MEETS DESIGN
Higgins distinguishes between trends that are purely of the moment and those that are inspired by a true shift in how people are living and using their homes.
One of those shifts we’re currently experiencing is a renewed interest in cooking, which is in part motivated by a desire to eat healthier, Higgins says
— look no further than the popularity of meal kits like Blue Apron for proof cooking in your home is cool again. As a result, people want their kitchens to deliver the best possible culinary experience.
Denise Manu, vice president of marketing for Roth Living, echoes that sentiment.
“Consumers want quality appliances that are approachable,” she says. “Cooking with precision and confidence is extremely important. Clients demand products that are easy to use with optimal results.”
Roth carries a range of hand-selected appli- ances from brands including Sub-Zero and Wolf. The former offers elegantly crafted refrigerators, freezers, and wine storage units, including highly sought after point-of-use solutions, like refrigera- tor or freezer drawers that can be built into an is- land. Also hot? Wolf’s convection steam ovens that can do everything from bake bread to roast meat to steam veggies perfectly by using digital technology to adjust cooking details.
In short, if you can think up a way to make your day- to-day life easier in the kitchen, there’s now a solution that makes it a reality. All that innovation means your appliances don’t just work differently, they boast an upgraded look, too.
“Technology has changed how function meets aesthetics,” Manu explains, pointing to features like sleek control panels, intuitive interfaces, and smaller appliances with a greater number of capabilities.
Best of all, the current crop of appliances is meant to be incorporated into your design rather than designed around. Manu notes that appliances can now be completely concealed.
As a result, today’s look is clean, Manu says — think long lines and clutter-free spaces inspired by European design. If that feels a little too modern, never fear. She points out that combining sleek materials with vintage pieces is currently trending, just one of many ways to get the technology and feel that’s right for you.
“People are more informed than ever before — clients and design professionals — and the internet provides endless possibilities to find inspiration and a source for materials,” she says. “You can maximize your opportunity to combine a beautiful space with function.”
STYLE MEETS FUNCTION
The function aspect is key, says Higgins, who emphasizes your kitchen should take into consideration your routine, whether that means adding USB ports so you can charge your devices while sipping coffee or embracing an open concept design so guests can mix and mingle over canapes.
That philosophy has homeowners gravitating toward large islands because they can be used for so many purposes, from food preparation to serving to socializing, Higgins says. Range hoods also remain popular because they provide critical ventilation as well as visual impact.
“It becomes an opportunity to make a style statement, be it traditional, modern, contemporary, or even transitional,” she explains.
The designer is also seeing the vast majority of clients opt for easy quartz countertops over marble and granite.
“Marble is always going to be stunning and stately, but now there are so many designs and styles of quartz products that mimic or even look like marble that they’re using those quartz products because marble is so porous and high maintenance,” she says. “They want to have the look without the maintenance issues.”
Marble still has a place in design, but perhaps not where you might expect. In a recent project, Higgins used it to create a focal wall. Although the home is fully equipped with the latest appliances, including a built-in coffee machine that remembers just how you like your java, it feels at once modern and classic because the familiar material is being used in a fresh way. In fact, ensuring classic design elements are represented is part of what allows you to incorporate of-the-moment trends while safeguarding your kitchen’s longevity.
“Good design will nod to or wink at the moment and how people are expressing themselves, but excellent design has a foundation that’s built on not only strong, classic aesthetics, but also good space planning, functionality, and organization,” Higgins says.
Take, for example, the popular farmhouse aesthetic. Rather than covering your kitchen in shiplap, she suggests opting for a reclaimed wood island in a refined white kitchen.
“It’s better to be eclectic and bring in these trends in pieces throughout than go 100 percent in,” the designer says.
As for what’s on the horizon when it comes to kitchen design, “Everyone is becoming more refined and edited right now,” Higgins says.
Expect a continued move toward cleaner, more intentional spaces that focus on a few key design.points and items important in your life — after all, your home should be all about you, not just the latest trends.
by JENNIFER LAPKA PFEIFER | photos by SAMANTHA LEVI
Did you know that Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, has the 14th best fashion program in the world, according to the “Business of Fashion,” London? It is the second time Stephens has received highly sought after ranking recognition from this global industry resource. “We have taken great care to craft our curriculum based on industry feedback and incorporate design thinking to help students learn to create innovative products. We offer classes on fitting, pattern making, and technical design, which are important skills every fashion designer should have a strong grasp of,” said Dr. Monica McMurry, professor and dean of the School of Design. “Our design graduates have to know what certain fabrics are
KATHRYN LEE BRIDAL, DESIGNER
capable of, what a properly fitted garment should look like, and how to communicate the smallest of production details to a factory that could be halfway across the nation or even on another continent.”
Upon a recent visit to the campus, I was thrilled to see that they offer their student body the latest and greatest in industrial sewing machines and a robust speaker series. In fact, they recently flew in — be still thy heart! — Dame Zandra Rhodes, the 76-year-old British fashion industry icon who designs textiles for renowned fashion houses, like Valentino, and founded the Fashion and Textile Museum in London.
Ami Beck of Dolyn Bags, my Today Spring 2017 fashion editorial feature subject, is a Stephens College alum. Luckily, our Kansas City fashion community benefits from several strong fashion design programs in the metropolitan area and region, which poise us well for another golden era of garment design and manufacturing. Established Kansas City based women’s wear designers Sarah Nelsen graduated from the University of Kansas, Heidi Herrman and Kate Nickols from Kansas State University, and Whitney Manney from Kansas City Art Institute. Each designer exhibits special skillsets that can be traced back to her respective school and teachers; for instance, Sarah, a keen understanding of color and shape; Heidi and Kate, impeccable technical abilities; and Whitney, an intrepid approach to designing her own textiles.
Coming from a family of educators on my maternal side, I have the deepest respect for the teachers and administrators at the aforementioned colleges. I tip my hat to them for their tireless pursuit in creating programs, curricula, and lesson plans that guide people to the jobs of their dreams.
Ami, Sarah, Heidi, Kate, and Whitney, the crème de la crème of Kansas City fashion designers, will be featured at the Rightfully Sewn Golden Gala, on Saturday December 2. Tickets are available at rightfullysewn.org.
by SUSAN RICHARDS JOHNSON | photos courtesty of KC LIBRARY ARCHIVES
Automobiles have become an important part of American life. We practically live in our cars and most of us couldn’t imagine a day going by without owning at least one. There exists in Kansas City’s history an area once known as “Automobile Row.” This important commercial district was located mainly along Main, Walnut, Grand, McGee, and Locust streets between 11th and 18th streets, during the first half of the 20th century. The area is now commonly known as the East Cross Roads District and has become a part of the city’s “First Fridays” art, commerce, and community scene.
This article explores a particular car dealership that represented a thriving business in Automobile Row, which was located in the Kirkwood Building at 1737 McGee Street. When the building’s construction was completed in 1920, automobiles had only been in production in the United States for 24 years. The Benz Company in Germany was the first to put an automobile into production, a three-wheeler built in 1885. In the United States, there were tinkerers, but no real industry until 1896. Between that time and the early 1920s, the industry in the United States grew from only a few producers to hundreds, many of which began as carriage companies.
When the automobile was introduced, it was a machine only the wealthy could afford. The price, $2,000 to $3,000, represented twice the average salary of a U.S. worker. By the end of World War I, automobile manufacturers produced 1.5 million cars a year, and as the production process became streamlined, the automobile became more affordable to everyone. By the mid-’20s, many working-class people owned automobiles, and innovations such as Henry Ford’s introduction of continuous plate glass made closed cars possible at an affordable price. Closed cars not only allowed passengers to remain clean and dry, a transportation luxury in the beginning of the century, but also created less of a distinction between higher and lower priced cars.
As the economy grew after World War I, automobiles became quite common. By 1920, the United States had 76 cars per 1,000 people. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the United States in 1920 was 106,102,537 people, translating into over 8 million automobiles in the United States. Two million farmers owned automobiles, and by 1922 more than 100,000 suburban homes in the United States were wholly automobile dependent.
From its introduction, the automobile caught on quickly in Kansas City. Only a couple of hundred Kansas Citians owned automobiles when the first car show came to town in 1907, but 20,000 people attended the show. Between 1908 and 1923, the rise of the number of automobiles in Kansas City was staggering. In only 15 years, Kansas City’s motor population had grown from a mere 400 automobiles to 55,000, streets from 300 to 600 miles. The growing number of automobiles was evident from the many new houses built with garages, as well as the new garages that were being added to existing properties. This increase in automobile use allowed the growth of the city to occur several miles south of downtown, because Kansas Citians were no longer dependent on electric streetcars for transportation.
As people bought more cars, the entire automotive industry grew to become a major aspect of Kansas City’s commerce. Early on, automobile makers determined that it was far costlier to ship fully assembled cars to showrooms across the country than to assemble them in regional factories for the regional market. Ford opened a plant in Kansas City in 1912, and a number of carriage manufacturing businesses in the West Bottoms also began the assembly of automobiles, including the Studebaker Company. Furthermore, the wholesaling of cars, parts, and accessories became an integral part of Kansas City’s overall wholesale trade.
Because of the city’s role as a major wholesale distribution center for manufactured goods, the development of a regional center for automotive sales in Kansas City was assured. The rapid growth in automobile use spurred the construction of specialized buildings rated to the sale of automobiles. Businessmen already engaged in other transportation-related sales and services — livery stable, blacksmith shops, and carriage dealers — were among the first dealerships to emerge. By the time automobile business became well established, owners dropped other endeavors and concentrated solely on car and truck sales.
Along with the development of these specialized buildings for auto vending came the birth of a new type of commercial district — Automobile Row. These districts related to the automobile industry and were located in an area just outside of the downtown retail and financial center in order to avoid higher real estate costs.
Kansas City was no exception. According to the 1909 Sanborn Fire Map, the neighborhood around 18th and McGee streets was filled with middle-class housing and related commercial buildings that supported the area. By the mid-1910s, many new commercial buildings were constructed, replacing the housing that had existed there before. By the 1920s, the area was largely commercial and became known as Automobile Row.
As mentioned earlier, one such automobile dealership was located at 1737 McGee Street and was known as the Kirkwood Building, constructed by Irwin Kirkwood, the son-in-law of William Rockhill Nelson, the founder of the Kansas City Star newspaper. Kirkwood developed the building to accommodate two auto-related businesses; each tenant area of the first floor of the building had a separate entrance along with its own wash rack. The main tenant was the Gridley Motor Company and the building’s design boasted a beautifully ornamental plastered display room, a used car department, a repair shop, as well as additional rental space. A mezzanine that was utilized for offices was placed above the machine shop. As the Gridley Motor Company grew from a one- car showroom highlighting a $75 car into a million- dollar business in only six years, the demand for more space increased rapidly . . . hence, the need for the Kirkwood Building.
The Gridley Motor Company was the city’s only authorized dealer of the Auburn car. The Auburn Automobile Company, from Auburn Indiana, would produce three American classics — the Auburn, the Cord, and the Duesenberg. The Duesenberg was arguably the finest car ever built in this country, America’s answer to the Rolls-Royce and the Bugatti. Gridley also sold the Peerless and the Locomobile, both high-priced luxury cars.
In 1922, Gridley Motors became Peerless Automotive and B. E. Gridley became the vice president of the newly formed company. In the same year, Peerless moved into another building and Hathaway Motors moved into the Kirkwood Building. In 1923, the Kansas City Durant Company moved in. William Durant, owner of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, the largest maker of horse-drawn carriages in the country, became the head of General Motors. Before long, Durant added other names to his line, including Flint Autos, which was listed as a tenant in the Kirkwood Building from 1925 to ’26. Durant Motors was a tenant of the building from 1923 to ’26. In 1927, the Kirkwood Building’s automotive character continued with the Faeth Company Auto Suppliers and later with Republic
Gear Corporation, and Thompson Auto Supplies, who leased the building for many years. From 1922 forward, other types of businesses occupied the building, including the Grand Aerie of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, Southwestern Bell, and the Central Surety and Insurance Corporation.
Many well-known architectural practices left their design mark in the Automobile Row neighborhood, including Wight and Wight, Root and Siemens, J. O. Hogg, Victor Jacques DeFoe, Nelle Peters, and Van Brunt and Howe. Their commissions included designing prestigious buildings with large, expansive glass display windows to showcase the gleaming automobiles inside.
Find a little time and take a drive in the historic Automobile Row area and picture what it must have been like when the area was bustling with automobile dealerships and tire and battery businesses, as well as automotive garages and repair shops.