Historic Kansas City.
I’m a Preservationist
Kansas City boasts some of the country’s most amazing architectural structures. Yet each year, 300 buildings are torn down. History crumbles as each brick falls. With the support of Preservationists across Kansas City, we can work together to protect our city’s built heritage and stop the ongoing demolition of historic resources in our community.
The term Preservationist is not specific to professionals who are preserving architecturally significant buildings. Preservationists are those who care about sustainability, economic development, urban revitalization and community vitality. They are business owners, neighborhood activists, environmentalists, history buffs and urban dwellers. Historic Kansas City is honored to tell the stories of our featured Preservationists. Join us, and let us tell yours.
Chef/Owner, Westport Café and Bar
Aaron Confessori is the chef and owner of Westport Café and Bar in the heart of historic Westport. When developing his restaurant concept, he was influenced by the bistros and brasseries from New York City, working at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market and studying at the French Culinary Institute. Since opening in 2010 on a historic block in Westport, Westport Café and bar has been a welcome addition, helping to keep the streetscape vibrant and alive.
Executive Director, Mutual Musicians Foundation
Anita Dixon is the Executive Director of the Mutual Musicians Foundation International in the heart of historic 18th And Vine. This National Historic Landmark, once known as Local 627, or the “colored” musicians union, promotes the rich history and culture that created the Swing Era of Jazz, and the legacy of this unique place makes it an international destination for heritage tourism. Anita also started one of the nation’s first “heritage” tour companies that specialized in African American heritage, sites and attractions.
Artist, Owner of YJ’s Snack Bar
David Ford has been a major creative force in the Kansas City art scene for more than 20 years as a painter and performance artist. His work has received awards from the Charlotte Street Foundation, the Tanne Foundation, Art Omi, and Creative Capital, as well as critical acclaim from online and print publications including Art in America, ArtPapers, Flavorpill, and the Village Voice. He has been a leader in the renaissance of the Crossroads Arts District and own YJ’s Snack Bar on 18th Street.
Designer, Dale Frommelt Furniture Design
Dale is originally from Dubuque Iowa and moved to Kansas City to attend the Kansas City Art Institute. He is the owner of Dale Frommelt Furniture Design in the Crossroads Arts District and has an interest in restoring vintage motorcycles. He chose Kansas City as a place for this business, and specifically the Crossroads, for his love of architecture, buildings, and history, and the fact the Crossroads was an anchor for artists and creative businesses.
Q: What is your favorite building in Kansas City?
A: Union Station. It’s a structure that has touched everyone in the city. And it’s beautiful.
President C and G Construction
Ryan Gale founded C and G Construction on a commitment to sustainable, green construction practices. Gale and his company have renovated commercial, residential and civic structures in the Crossroads Arts District and his own Westside neighborhood. Preservation and rehabilitation projects include Birdies Panties, Peruvian Connection, Society for Contemporary Photography and The Lueck Loft.
Artist and Historic Homeowner
David Gant is a local artist who renovated a historic house off Independence Avenue where he has his home and studio. A dedicated resident of the Northeast, David is fascinated by the various eras of development represented in the area. He has a love for antiquity, which influences his aesthetic decisions as well as his art work. He first became interested in preservation visiting Civil War battlefields as a child where the original buildings and landscapes inspired his imagination.
Q: What is your favorite building in Kansas City?
A: I’d have to say El Torreon Ballroom. I went to punk rock shows there when I was a teenager. It’s also really cool to think about the fact that Kansas Citians have been getting their kicks going to shows there since the Jazz Days.
Chef/Owner, Rieger Hotel Grill and Exchange
Howard Hanna is the Chef/Owner of The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange in the Crossroads and Ca Va in historic Westport. Hanna is a 2003 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in New York City, and opened his first restaurant in the 99-year-old former headquarters of the J. Rieger& Company Whiskey Distributorship at 1924 Main. In the spirit of a true preservationist, Hanna kept the name as well as many of the original bathroom fixtures and tile flooring. Since moving to Kansas City, he has lived in five buildings, four of which are over 100 years old.
Q: What drew you to your building in the first place?
A: At the Reiger, the location and physical space influenced every decision we made about developing our brand. The tile floor, the name, the brick, the bathroom fixtures, and the mural outside are all things that we consciously and deliberately incorporated into our image and identity. The building is gorgeous and gives our restaurant a soul that couldn’t exist in a newer space.