By JOE JAROSZ
June 4, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Daniel Edwards and his fiancé Ebony Burnside have at least one motivation to clean the grounds of an abandoned 1897 castle near 18th and Vine.
That’s because in less than a week, the couple is getting married on the land.
When Edwards proposed last August, he told Burnside the truth, that he hates weddings. He instead proposed the idea of reinvesting the money that would have been spent on various wedding amenities back into the community.
“I wanted to put the money somewhere that needs it more than we do,” Edwards said.
She agreed and the two began looking for plots to repurpose. Edwards said growing up in the Northeast area, he knew about the castle and its history. Initially the castle, located at 2001 Vine St., served as a workhouse for criminals until it’s closing in 1918. It then served several purposes, including city office space and marine training facility, before permanently closing in 1972.
“It’s been sitting here unused since 1972,” Edwards said. “Crazy.”
The ultimate goal is to turn it into a community garden, an outdoor internet cafe and event space.
“We don’t want people to live here,” Edwards said when asked about the area being turned into apartments. “It should be enjoyed by the community.”
But since it’s been sitting abandoned since the 1970s, the structure has been covered with graffiti and the land littered with trash. Edwards knows renovation of the 1.9 acre area will be no small task.
“We had our first community clean-up in April,” Edwards said, adding so far, they’ve collected around 10 tons of trash. He assumes there’s about another 20-25 tons to collect. “We’ve cut down a lot of trees and the city is helping clear brush. Home Depot, Ace [Hardware] and Lowe’s have been really supportive, donating the tools we need to clean.”
Cleaning is just phase one. Phase two includes securing donations to help with the renovations while also beginning work on the community garden. Phase three is a more extensive clean-up inside the castle. Throughout the summer, Edwards plans to hold various fundraisers on the castle grounds to raise the funds needed for the project.
“Every penny we raise is going to go back into the castle,” Edwards said. “I believe it’ll work but you gotta take the risk to get the reward.”
Edwards and his nonprofit organization 2orMore, have been given the go ahead from the building’s owner – Nonprofit Kansas City Business Center for Entrepreneurial Development – for the renovations and cleaning. He said this is the first project of his nonprofit, an organization that helps mobilize young adults with ideas but with no way of taking the first step.
“We’re taking the first step to make use of this castle,” Edwards said. “I want to help remove blight from the area. My hope is that younger generations can make this a sustainable destination for the community.”
Recently, Edwards received a $12,000 grant for the community garden. He said he’ll also soon begin raising funds through the crowd sourcing website www.neighbor.ly. Repairs for the building could cost anywhere from $3 – 5 million due to the damage the building has sustained. For now, people have been showing up, helping in any way possible to get the grounds clean enough for the couple’s June 8th wedding.
“The biggest thing is that if you have a vision, people will grab on,” Edwards said. “People show up because they believe in the cause.”