Kansas City Museum’s Corinthian Hall renovation earns preservation award

Abby Hoover
Managing Editor

The Kansas City Museum’s $22 million renovation of Corinthian Hall is gaining statewide attention as a recipient of Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation’s 2021 McReynolds Award.

The Awards recognize people and projects that have advanced the field of Historic Preservation in Missouri.

The 41st annual Honor Awards were presented virtually on Tuesday, June 8. Normally these awards are held in the Capitol Rotunda in Jefferson City, but Missouri Preservation chose to err on the side of caution and host the event virtually one more year. Donations from the event will help Missouri Preservation continue its advocacy efforts for historic preservation.

Founded in 1976 as the Missouri Heritage Trust, Missouri Preservation has evolved into a respected grassroots network of individuals, organizations, and preservation commissions throughout Missouri. Missouri Preservation advocates for, educates about, and assists in the preservation of architectural and historic landmarks that embody Missouri’s unique heritage and sense of place.

The McReynolds Award is named in honor of Elizabeth McReynolds Rozier, a founding member of MIssouri Preservation and a noted Jefferson City Preservationist. They are given annually to individuals or groups who have made significant achievements in the field or are in the midst of a long-term preservation project, creating synergy in the field of historic preservation. According to the organization, the McReynolds awards are among the most important awards given out each year.

Corinthian Hall is the main building on the historic Robert Alexander Long family property on Gladstone Boulevard bordering Kessler Park in Northeast Kansas City. The building’s renovation is the first phase of projects throughout the property which includes a carriage house and other outbuildings.

“It was essential for us to restore and renovate Corinthian Hall first on the property and we knew that by restoring and renovating Corinthian Hall in the way we had done – which took a great deal of planning and care and intentional, thoughtful design about the visitor experience – that we could demonstrate to the public and to our community that we would be able to complete the entire property in a way that fulfills our mission and vision, and is to the standards of the quality of historic preservation.”

It all begins with Corinthian Hall, Tutera said, adding that everyone who has worked on the renovation feels validated and grateful for the recognition. She said it’s particularly meaningful because they received Missouri Development Finance Board (MDFB) tax credit allocations for Corinthian Hall, which is a very competitive process.

“I’m really hoping that this demonstrates to their commission that we were able to use the funds responsibly that we received, not just publicly but through private sources,” Tutera said. “It is incredibly humbling also, to receive this award. This team has worked for seven years on this project.”

The award also honors those who came before them and took on the mission of trying to save Corinthian Hall, Tutera said.

Kansas City Museum Foundation (KCMF) President Dr. Mary Davidson said preservation is a crucial part of their work for the museum and is a statement of what years long partnerships have accomplished through a lot of hard work and dedication.

“The Long house was in desperate condition for an awfully long time, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be brought back to life,” Davidson said. “I think that preservation award states loud and clear what the Parks Department, what the City of Kansas City, what the Museum Foundation and what the Northeast neighborhoods have done to say, ‘We can bring this back to life, we can make it what it was once.’”

It was a house to be treasured, to be admired and to be looked at by the community and the citizens of the five county area, Davidson added.

“That preservation award speaks loud and clear that it can be done, and we have done it,” Davidson said. “It’s absolutely beautiful. We have done everything we can do to make it look like it did once. It just shines.”

KCMF board member Shomari Benton said the region and the city should be proud, but in particular Northeast residents should carry this honor.

“This is one of several jewels that Northeast has within its borders and the neighborhoods within Northeast have been an integral part of pushing this forward,” Benton said.

The Kansas City Museum’s rehabilitation project was awarded, alongside the William Oldenhoener Home in Jackson, Mo., and Carthage Historic Preservation of the Sweet House in Carthage, Mo.

The Rozier Award was established to recognize individuals who have made significant achievements in the field of historic preservation in Missouri. Missouri Preservation’s most prestigious annual award, Tom Kuypers of St. Charles, Mo., was this year’s recipient.

The Overby Award was established to recognize published works that contribute to the documentation and interpretation of Missouri’s architectural history. It honors Dr. Osmund Overby, Art History Professor Emeritus and former head of the historic preservation program at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Dr. Overby was a founding member of Missouri Preservation, lifetime board and advisory member and a nationally recognized leader in historic preservation. This year’s honored title was “Historic Main Street Tour” by the Special Business District Board of the City of St. Charles, Mo.

The Preserve Missouri awards recognize the outstanding efforts and projects around the state. Suggested categories include, but are not limited to: Commercial Revitalization, Institutional/Civic Building Restoration, Neighborhood Revitalization, Residential Rehabilitation, Historic Landscape Preservation, Rural Preservation, and Preservationist-in-Action. While there were many recipients statewide, the Kansas City honorees were Netherland Hotel and Residences, W.A. Pickering Mansion in Janssen Place, The Flashcube at 720 Main Street downtown and Hotel Kansas City in the old Kansas City Club building.

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