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All Around Town: Top 10 Kansas City landmarks: Part 1

In
Corinthian Hall, the former mansion of lumber baron R.A. Long, now houses the Kansas City Museum. The opulent 30,000 square foot house, at 3218 Gladstone Blvd., is a prime example of the Classical Revival style.
Corinthian Hall, the former mansion of lumber baron R.A. Long, now houses the Kansas City Museum. The opulent 30,000 square foot house, at 3218 Gladstone Blvd., is a prime example of the Classical Revival style.
The Pomona Courtyard fountain and Time Tower on the Country Club Plaza along Ward Parkway. The Plaza’s many fountains, towers and elaborate buildings are modeled after what developer J.C. Nichols saw in Seville, Spain.
The Pomona Courtyard fountain and Time Tower on the Country Club Plaza along Ward Parkway. The Plaza’s many fountains, towers and elaborate buildings are modeled after what developer J.C. Nichols saw in Seville, Spain.

The next two issues of “All Around Town” are inspired by a 1977 book I came across the other day. The book, “Kansas City: A Place in Time,” by the Landmark Commission, piqued my curiosity.

Here is the first half of my list of top 10 Kansas City landmarks:

1. Country Club Plaza

When J.C. Nichols began buying hog farms in the Brush Creek valley in 1907 to build the Country Club Plaza, Kansas Citians dubbed the plan “Nichols’ folly.”

But in 1922, they had their last laugh when the Plaza opened.

The Plaza borrows heavily from Seville, Spain’s Moorish-influenced architecture.

The Midland by AMC, at 1228 Main St., features elaborate terra cotta detailing and an arced loggia facing 13th Street. The Midland was the third largest theatre in the U.S. when built in 1927.
The Midland by AMC, at 1228 Main St., features elaborate terra cotta detailing and an arced loggia facing 13th Street. The Midland was the third largest theatre in the U.S. when built in 1927.

Tile roofs, ornate iron-work, terra cotta detailing, mosaics, fountains, statues and domed towers embellish the Plaza’s many buildings, which include a replica of Seville’s Giralda Tower. Today, the Plaza is widely considered the first planned, auto-oriented shopping center in the U.S.

 

A series of “lens” structures are all that can be seen of the Bloch Building from the Nelson’s front lawn. At night, the lenses emit a soft, white glow.
A series of “lens” structures are all that can be seen of the Bloch Building from the Nelson’s front lawn. At night, the lenses emit a soft, white glow.

2. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

The Nelson-Atkins building opened in 1933 on the site of William Rockhill Nelson’s former estate. It featured a neo-classical exterior clad in Indiana limestone and boasted a grand pillared entrance overlooking a 20-acre manicured lawn.

Construction progresses on the Kauffman Performing Arts Center, visible in front of the Bartle Hall pylons. The building is a prime example of post-modern architecture.
Construction progresses on the Kauffman Performing Arts Center, visible in front of the Bartle Hall pylons. The building is a prime example of post-modern architecture.

The Bloch Building, a 2007 addition designed by renowned architect Steven Holl, offsets the monumental Nelson-Atkins building with its clean, organic lines. It is built primarily underground, with only a handful of

The Nelson-Atkins and Bloch buildings’ reflection in the Reflection Pool behind the museum.
The Nelson-Atkins and Bloch buildings’ reflection in the Reflection Pool behind the museum.

glass “lens” structures appearing above the surface. At night, the lenses emit a soft white glow against the backdrop of the museum’s sculpture gardens.

 

3. Kansas City Museum

The Kansas City Museum is housed in the former R.A. Long estate. Completed in 1911, the Long mansion was Kansas City’s first million-dollar house (it would cost $50 million to build in 2011). The estate’s main building, Corinthian Hall has over-the-top architectural detailing, 70 rooms, 15 bathrooms and more than 30,000 square feet on three main floors.

It is undergoing extensive renovations and will allow visitors to see the mansion as the Long family left it in the 1930s. For more information, visit www.friendsofkansascitymuseum.org.

 

4. The Midland Theatre

When it opened in 1927, the Midland was the third largest theatre in the U.S. and the first in Kansas City with a combined heating and cooling system. The building’s exterior is a combination of French baroque and Austrian rococo styles. For more information, including upcoming concerts, visit www.midlandkc.com.

 

5. Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

With a grand opening set for Sept. 16, the long-anticipated Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will elevate Kansas City’s fine arts to the next level.

The massive steel, glass and reinforced concrete structure can be seen in the Kansas City skyline in front of the Bartle Hall pylons. The center will include an 1,800 seat theatre for the Kansas City Ballet and Lyric Opera and 1,600 seat performance hall for the Kansas City Symphony. The two halls are linked by a multi-level glass lobby. The $300 million building, designed by Moshe Safdie, will no doubt evoke other cities’ envy.

Check out U-News next week for the second half of the list.

nzoschke@unews.com

 

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