blog, family, History, Kansas City, Story, Uncategorized

Westpost Kansas City at Holiday’s End

Picking Party

Picking Party

The rules and manners of the parties attended in the frontier times is much the same today. Those rules and manners are at the discretion of the host. Although dancing was forbidden in Kansas City in 1850, this old trading post was known as a dance hall. Parties in the old Westport Saloon would have involved a sing along to the tunes of guitars and banjos, just like we do here today. Afterwards we share supper and a slice of pumpkin pie with friends. In the frontier times the evening would end with running through the woods with candles while looking for a partner to kiss. Today we stroll through the plaza enjoying the holiday lights where a kiss is shared between couples on a holiday quest.

 

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Art, History, Kansas City, Uncategorized

Bob’s Perspective


I first fell in love with the Trading Post when I became friends with the previous owner. He and his roommate were pattern makers, prototypers, mold-makers, and inventors. They were living in the building, using the first floor for business and rehabbing the building at the same time.
When my predecessors acquired the building it had no foundation, the first floor was open, undivided, unfinished, with a cracked and deteriorated concrete floor, giving way here and there to native soil. The second floor contained two small, shabby apartments.

In a fashion I would later learn to be typical of their cleverness, they first jacked up the building and poured a foundation UNDER it! (Originally the Trading Post had been built up the hill. When a new road was put in on the other side of a small pond separating it from the building, the owner drained the pond, hitched the building to mules, and dragged it down the hill to rest on a shale outcropping back-filled with dirt. And so it settled for more than a hundred years.)

Then they stripped the inside of the building and restuded it in its new configuration. After applying interior wall surfaces, they stripped the outside and resurfaced it as well.

Midway in the project, in 1982 they moved their business to a large, downtown commercial building and decided to part with the trading post. Years before, after dreaming someday it would be my home, I told them if it was ever for sale- I wanted it at whatever price they deemed reasonable.

You see, I am an attorney by profession, but I have been an artist showing in galleries since childhood, and a musician who has played in public almost that long. It was my dream, locked away in my law office on the 18th floor of a bank building downtown that someday I would live, work, and maintain music and art studios all in the same place.

One glorious day I received a call from Drake, the remaining partner/owner- “make me an offer!” I secured open-ended financing and met with him to learn his price. He stated a desired sale price and I unhesitatingly agreed! Two days later Drake called and requested a meeting. After a lengthy preamble about all the things wrong with the building, the failing water heater, the 5 roofs dating in part to the Civil War era, the unfinished 2/3 of the interior, Drake lowered the price by $5,000 and gave me a stern lecture on never accepting the first offer!!!

Well, after this magnificent display of compulsive honesty we became friends for life, in early 1983 I became the glowingly proud owner of the Trading Post. The first day as I sat delighted in my huge empty building the doorbell rang. A little old man from up the block came to welcome me to the neighborhood. He told me about the long history of the building- trading post, saloon where it is said Doc Holliday ran the card game, grocery store, plumbing contractor, junk shop, design studio, and finally to me. He gave me a wonderful old picture of himself as a boy standing his uncles in front of the building with wood-spoked wheel delivery trucks and handlebar moustaches when he worked in the grocery store.

Despite all the work they had put into the restoration I was still left with a daunting task. The first floor was an undeveloped disaster. I had to stud in and build walls, pour a 2000 square foot floor, build a law office and studios, a darkroom for photography, and so forth. The second floor living space of 2500 square feet could only be entered by a 45-degree ladder from downstairs, or by climbing pile of wooden peach crates to reach the two doors, unaccountably hanging 4 feet above the ground! (The building was on a slope so that both floors were theoretically ground accessible.)

The living space was partially beautifully finished in oak truck bedding, doors, window treatments, and trim. Drake had purchased a freight car load of oak left unpaid in a bankruptcy and the whole interior shoe with luscious red oak, but there was a looooong way to go!

At first the building was wonderfully empty which suited my “Italian Industrial” style taste. The problem was that decades upon decades of settling and decay had warped and tilted every floor and angle in the place! Without adding optical illusion furniture and wall hanging placements one quickly felt like a drunk in a fun house walking about the building!

Of course the spare gallery look was not to last. As the work progressed, the artwork and guitars accumulated, and the junking expedition prizes were turned into furniture and light fixtures it took on a different look. In truth it was a full 12 years before I declared the job “done.” But of course it was not. A new roof, the yard cleared of anything that had to be mown for rock garden, hot tub, an 8’x30’ herb garden, and an outside home for our duck, many revisions, new bathroom, this and that, and here we are today.

Somehow 30+ years has filled the building with art work, one of a kind furnishings, odd antiques, musical instruments, and my new art hobby 1:12 scale miniature buildings, 10 of which now crowd the living room display space along with an enclosure for our two bunnies. Hardly room for another drawing!

Today it is a quirky but wonderful home for my wife, a scientist and talented artist, and I. What will it become next? Who is to say? Check with Terrie regularly on her blog Myhouse thetradingpost.com to find out!

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Art, blog, History, Kansas City, music, Story, Uncategorized

The Belles of Westport My House The Trading Post

IMG_2899In 1909, Mrs. Carrie Westlake Whitney, the librarian, wrote of her account of her first visit to Westport (1881), “there was incessant hammering and banging from a dozen blacksmith’s sheds, where the heavy wagons were being repaired, and the horses and oxen shod. The streets were thronged with men, horses, and mules. While I was in town, a train of emigrant wagons from Illinois passed through to join the camp on the prairie. A multitude of healthy children’s faces were peeping out from under the covers of the wagons. Here and there a buxom damsel was seated on horseback, holding over her sunburnt face an umbrella or a parasol, once gaudy enough, but now miserably faded.”

My house the trading post, in Westport (Kansas City, Missouri), once catered to the families of sturdy, good people, whose life was that of the frontier. The rules and manners of the parties attended, were at the discretion of the host. A party at the old Westport saloon would have involved dancing and a “kissing” game. This would be followed by a “supper” that included pumpkin pie, peach pie, and buttermilk. Afterwards, the fun would continue with a run through the backwoods with candles.

With the room lite with candles that “shone brightly upon the fair maidens with glossy water-falls, delaine tissue dresses, hoop skirts and family jewels.” In 1850, dancing in Kansas City, was forbidden by the churches. The young folks were allowed to have large parties, accompanied by some older persons, but the kids refused to call them “chaperons.” For fun, packs of teens, would take a passage on one of the Missouri River Boats, and dance on deck to the fiddler music. A jolly captain, with a crew that supplied the teens with good southern cooking, made this excursion highly enjoyable.

Fashion in KC-Westlake

The most desired and eligible young men were from Westport. The prettiest and wealthiest girls were from Kansas City or Independence. The finest parties were hosted by the sons and daughters of the first trading post merchants, saloon owners, and farmers. The Santa Fe trade made these families wealthy. Their parties were legendary and drew in all the prettiest girls.

Before bridge parties and book clubs were popular, quilting parties were the social occasion for the mothers and daughters.  Some girls would travel ten miles to arrive as early a nine o’clock in the morning, to quilt. The ladies arrived by carriage, pulled by one of the girl’s own personal riding horses.  The women sat on rush bottom chairs around a quilting frame while stitching in different areas. In the company of the other quilters, pioneer women, brought up with cortly manners and elegances, kept their words polite.

Belles

The Belles of Kansas City, Missouri in 2014, are beautiful, well-mannered ladies, with charisma and a flair for taking pictures. Among the popular activities in Kansas City for kids to do include, playing soccer, hanging out at the Plaza and Union Station, and joining a modeling class. Here are a few more photos:

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Art, blog, History, Kansas City, Story

Early Days, My House the Trading Post

1900's

1900’s

A small group of men organized to form the town of Westport in the 1820’s. These early settlers lived in the wilderness area west of Independence Missouri and North of Saint Louis. Lewis and Clark, years earlier, had noted the territory was perfect for resting the horses with its sheltering woodlands and clear running springs.

Kansas City was one of the stopping places for early settlers in pioneer days. In those days, people traveled through Kansas City by boat, horseback, and stage-coach. Missouri offered all a man could want, rivers, valleys, hills, and plains. Yet, people were on the move West. The reasons for travel varied from fur trapping, hunting, adventurers or quest for gold.

Gillis house

The first structures were log cabins. Boards were applied to the exteriors later. The general shape of these oldest buildings like my house, had small panes of glass, and an outside chimney. One of the popular establishments that developed in those early days was that of the Trading Post. Trading practices with the Indians flourished because traders had a great influence with the Indians and the government relied on this relationship. The Indians were extended credit and the traders were soon able to replace the log cabins with two-story Taverns and Dance Halls.

Westport became a rough and rowdy frontier town. The town was overrun with gun-toting renegades, drunken Indians, and Mexican War soldiers. A man named, Vogel, ran a tavern in Westport.  Taverns in those days were used for community business, socializing, weddings, and funerals, which took place in the large main room, often fitted with a bar and some shelves.

breadwagon

A priest traveling in 1840, to the frontier town of Westport noted during his travel in the Missouri wilderness, that he encountered an abandoned cabin where a poor Indian woman had died a few days earlier. Imagine Westport, where Indians with shaggy ponies tied up by the dozens to poles along the houses and fences of Westport Road. Indians, with shaved heads and painted faces, other Indians with long flowing locks and a few wrapped in blankets, all strolling down the streets and lounging about the shops. Also note, it was illegal to sell whiskey to the Indians.

This building I call home, was once a structure of an old Westport original tavern.  One owner sold his old two-story wooden tavern building for $5.00.  Several stories indicate that a two-story building was rolled along Westport road on huge tree logs, pulled my mules. Those logs are still under my house, to this day.  The building sits on the plot of land once owned by Mr. Patterson, at the corner of Mr. Harris’ plat. Later Mr. Vogel purchased all of the Patterson’s land.

My house is about 200 yards from the Kansas Indian Missionary and Schoolhouse. The Indian School is now a museum and tourist site. It isn’t possible to walk to the missionary school from my house today, because tall, modern cement, stone and brick buildings line the roads and form multiple blocks that created a barrier where the wilderness once allowed a path. The local newspaper of Old Westport, reported that a “particular tavern not more than 200 yards from the Indian Mission was suspected of selling spirits of alcohol to the Indians and contributing to the derelict behavior of the savages.”

westsign

I live in one of the oldest wood trading posts, remaining, since the days of the pioneers. It was the last place to stop for provisions on the way west, and the first chance to buy a beer after a two months cattle drive on a dusty Santa Fe trail. (1822-1880)

1960 Antique Store

1960 Antique Store

In 1860, the place was a  tavern, by 1909 it was a general store. Shortly, thereafter if fell into the hands of a contractor. By the mid-20th century the property had seen its best days gone. In the 1950’s, it was owned by a junk dealer who had the place packed to the ceiling with antiques and had two rental apartments upstairs. It was in that condition that our good friend, Drake, acquired the property and started those late 1970 renovations. He needed a commercial building for, Drake Design, a company that made fiberglass molds for the auto industry.

2008 Law Office
2008 Law Office

My husband Bob, bought the property from Drake. After 12 years of solo labor, Bob, was able to convert the house into its present condition and design. Bob has lived here for over 30 years, practiced law, worked on his art, and rehearsed a band or two. I have lived here for five years and absolutely love the place.

1867
1867

The original building was a rectangular, 2 story building with a large main room on the first floor.  In the late 1800’s an American Indian man, who owned the trading post/tavern, enlarged the building on the north side, doubling the size of the  building to 5000 square feet, utilizing a slant in the roof for a lodge pole, the technique matched the traditional structures built by his tribe.

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Jade, my house the trading post

Image

Jade is the color of Spring. March is the color of green. Shades of green jade are peaking out from the gray winter. It brings a smile and thoughts of being young.

Remember high school? A Friday party in class. The classroom windows open for the fresh air. There is a knock at the door.  A tray of icecream cups arrive. Oh joy!

 

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Art, blog, History, Kansas City, Story, Uncategorized

Early Days, my house the trading post

1900's

1900’s

Kansas City was one of the stopping places for early settlers in pioneer days. At one time people traveled through Kansas City by boat, horseback, and stage-coach. Missouri offered all a man could want, rivers, valleys, hills, and plains. Yet, people were on the move West. The reasons for travel varied from fur trapping, hunting, adventurers or quest for gold.

A small group of men organized to form the town of Westport in the 1820’s. These early settlers liked the wilderness area west of Independence Missouri and North of Saint Louis. Lewis and Clark, years earlier, had noted the territory was perfect for resting the horses with its sheltering woodlands and clear running springs.

Gillis house

The first structures were log cabins. Boards were applied to the exteriors later. The general shape of these oldest buildings like my house, had small panes of glass, and an outside chimney. One of the popular establishments that developed in those early days was that of the Trading Post. Trading practices with the Indians flourished because traders had a great influence with the Indians and the government relied on this relationship. The Indians were extended credit and the traders were soon able to replace the log cabins with two-story Taverns and Dance Halls.

Westport became a rough and rowdy frontier town. The town was overrun with gun-toting renegades, drunken Indians, and Mexican War soldiers. A man named, Vogel, ran a tavern in Westport.  Taverns in those days were used for community business, socializing, weddings, and funerals, which took place in the large main room, often fitted with a bar and some shelves.

breadwagon

A priest traveling in 1840, to the frontier town of Westport noted during his travel in the Missouri wilderness, that he encountered an abandoned cabin where a poor Indian woman had died a few days earlier. Imagine Westport, where Indians with shaggy ponies tied up by the dozens to poles along the houses and fences of Westport Road. Indians, with shaved heads and painted faces, other Indians with long flowing locks and a few wrapped in blankets, all strolling down the streets and lounging about the shops. Also note, it was illegal to sell whiskey to the Indians.

This building I call home, was once a structure of an old Westport original tavern.  One owner sold his old two-story wooden tavern building for $5.00.  Several stories indicate that a two-story building was rolled along Westport road on huge tree logs, pulled my mules. There are such logs still under my house, to this day. It is believed that Mr. Harris sold the building to Mrs. Patterson or one of her sons or to someone who rented the Patterson land. The building sits on the plot of land once owned by Mr. Patterson, at the corner of Mr. Harris plat. Later Mr. Vogel purchased all of the Patterson’s land.

My house is about 200 yards from the Kansas Indian Missionary and Schoolhouse. The Indian School is now a museum and tourist site. It isn’t possible to walk to the missionary school from my house today, because tall, modern, cement, stone and brick buildings line the roads and formed multiple blocks that created a barrier where the wilderness once allowed a path. The local newspaper of Old Westport, reported that a “particular tavern not more than 200 yards from the Indian Mission was suspected of selling spirits of alcohol to the Indians and contributing to the derelict behavior of the savages.”

westsign

I live in one of the oldest wood trading posts, remaining, since the days of the pioneers. It was the last place to stop for provisions on the way west, and the first chance to buy a beer after a two months cattle drive on a dusty Santa Fe trail. (1822-1880)

1960 Antique Store

1960 Antique Store

In 1860, the place was a  tavern, by 1909 it was a general store. Shortly, thereafter if fell into the hands of a contractor. By the mid-20th century the property had seen its best days gone. In the 1950’s, it was owned by a junk dealer who had the place packed to the ceiling with antiques and had two rental apartments upstairs. It was in that condition that our good friend, Drake, acquired the property and started those late 1970 renovations. He needed a commercial building for, Drake Design, a company that made fiberglass molds for the auto industry.

2008 Law Office
2008 Law Office

My husband Bob, bought the property from Drake. After 12 years of solo labor, Bob, was able to convert the house into its present condition and design. Bob has lived here for over 30 years, practiced law, worked on his art, and rehearsed a band or two. I have lived here for five years and absolutely love the place.

1867
1867

The original building was a rectangular, 2 story building with a large main room on the first floor.  In the late 1800’s an American Indian man, who owned the trading post/tavern, enlarged the building on the north side, doubling the size of the  building to 5000 square feet, utilizing a slant in the roof for a lodge pole, the technique matched the traditional structures built by his tribe.

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Art, blog, Event, History, Kansas City, Story, Uncategorized

Back to History, my house the trading post

IMG_2297IMG_22951900-studio

 

Westport property values rose during the Depression. The area south of my house the trading post, between State line and Homes Street, where the Civil War Battle of Westport took place, was bought by J.C. Nichols. Mr. Nichols designed streets with running streams, lush plantings, and stone walls and bridges. The Country Club Plaza District was born.

The land around my house the trading post was still farmland. Between 1910 and 1920 the neighborhood had been bought and small depression era family homes were built. My house the trading post became a small neighborhood grocery store.

The Country Club Plaza district offered modern houses and a sophisticated shopping village. In fact, the Plaza shopping center was the most imaginative shopping center of the world. There were luxurious specialty shops and department stores set in Spanish tiled, stucco buildings, with outdoor fountains, statuary, and flowering trees.

The Plaza drew in clients from the surrounding areas, of new homes in Westport, and the new Plaza apartments and from the entire region of Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. The luxury of the Plaza exists today. Over the years, employees from Kansas and Nebraska enjoy annual meetings and business trips at the Country Club Plaza. A trip to Kansas City is jammed packed with entertainment, shopping, and good food, all in walking distance.

Westport has always been the more urban entertainment area, but in the 1920s it became even flashier. Going to the movies and dancing were the favorite activities. One young flapper girl, named Lucille LeSeuer won a Charleston Dance Contest that sent her to Hollywood. That young girl was Joan Crawford.

Main Street

Main Street 1853

Parks and Boulevards, 1908
Parks and Boulevards, 1908

 

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