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.


Founder and Designer, Baldwin Denim

Matt Baldwin is the founder and designer of Baldwin Denim, a Kansas City based clothing and lifestyle brand. After the success of Matt s Kansas City menswear shop Standard Style, which opened in 2003, he decided to start his own brand. But instead of heading to Los Angeles or New York, Matt decided to stick to his roots and founded his company, Baldwin, in Kansas City in 2009. He has decided to keep his brands in KC and is one of the only local shops on the historic Country Club Plaza. Along with having multiple stores in the Kansas City area, he has also renovated a midcentury modern home.

John McDonald

Founder Boulevard Brewery

John McDonald is the founder of Boulevard Brewery, currently the largest specialty brewer in the Midwest. In 1988 John purchased a turn-of-the-century brick building on Kansas City’s historic Southwest Boulevard and installed a vintage Bavarian brewhouse. The company has been headquartered and brewing beer there ever since, and in 2006 expanded with the construction of a state-of-the art facility next door. John lives in the historic West Side neighborhood and is currently working on several preservation projects in the East Bottoms, including the old Heim Bottle Shop.

Q: Why do you consider yourself a preservationist?

A: I don’t like waste. I think we need to keep the buildings we have.

Christopher Elbow

Owner, Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates

Christopher Elbow, owner of Christopher Elbow Artisan Chocolate, is a downtown Kansas City based chocolatier and business owner. After working in several jobs as a chef in both Kansas City and Las Vegas, Christopher accepted the pastry chef position at the American Restaurant. There, he perfecting his chocolate-making skills and began selling his creations in the local markets. As demand increased, Christopher started his own company and currently has shops in historic buildings on Southwest Boulevard in the Crossroads and at 18th and McGee in downtown. The first house he purchased was in the Northeast neighborhood and built in 1890. He is also an enthusiast of modern architecture and is currently renovating a midcentury modern home in South Kansas City designed by noted architect David Runnells in 1952.

Q: What does preservation mean to you?

A: Preservation is a way to connect the future of our city with its past. There is a lot of character and history that makes Kansas City a fascinating place to love and visit. Preservation is a way to keep that spirit alive as our city continues to grow.

Grant Burcham

President and CEO, MO Bank

Grant Burcham is the CEO of Missouri Bank and Trust. Under his leadership the bank has grown from $63 million in assets to more than $550 million today. He has a strong dedication to supporting small businesses in Kansas City and an interest in the arts and entrepreneurship. The success of the many local business and adaptive reuse projects which the bank has backed is evidence that preservation and economic development can go hand in hand. Additionally, he personally has been a champion of preservation by renovating historic buildings for MO Bank branch locations, including the downtown branch, the Brookside branch and the Crossroads branch.

Q: What surprises you about Kansas now versus Kansas City 10 year ago?

A: The solidity and vibrancy of the neighborhoods between the Plaza and midtown.

Danny O’Neill

President & Owner of The Roasterie

Danny O’Neill—a preservationist from originally from Denison, Iowa. He started out air roasting coffee in the basement of his home in Brookside and in 1993 he founded The Roasterie. Since that time his company has remodeled and reused four buildings for each of the Roasterie factories, including his popular shop in Brookside—a repurposed gas station–and the Roasterie Headquarters on 27th Street. Danny serves on a number of advisory boards for various local companies and associations, and is currently on the Board of Regents at Rockhurst University and the Board of Directors for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. He is also past President of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. He has loved old barns and houses since childhood, and that interest has carried over into adulthood and expanded to include all types of architecture.

Butch Rigby

Founder and Owner, Screenland Theaters

Butch Rigby loves movies, architecture and history, and has incorporated these passions into his professional career. Butch has rehabilitated numerous buildings in the Kansas City area, including several buildings in the Old Film Row district of the Crossroads, the Armour Theater in North Kansas City, the Granada Theater in Kansas City, KS and the Star Circulation Building at 1701 McGee. He has also lived in several 100 year old homes. Butch is the Founder and Chairman of Thank You Walt Disney, Inc. (a nonprofit working to save Walt Disney’s Laugh-O-Gram Studio), Past President of the Film Society of Greater Kansas City and a former board member of the Troost-Midtown Association.

Judy Rush

Digital Artist

Judy Rush is an internationally regarded digital artist and in 2012 was named a most influential woman in Kansas City. Two years running she was honored as Luerzer’s Archive top 100 digital artists in the world. A creative guru she owns The Guild KC, RW2 video production studio, and a post-production company called RealFake. Judy was one of the first in her field to employ young creatives in Kansas City. Her sons Lyndon and Lindsey are directors and photographers who are the creativity behind this lovely photo. The family’s first preservation project was a studio at 2010 McGee, which was bought and rehabbed in late 1990s. It was a bold move at the time, as the Western Auto Building was still vacant and a homeless tent city inhabited the bridge behind. In 2012 the family had outgrown the space and purchased two historic buildings at 1621 Locust, one of which became the new RW2 video production studio and the other a high-end event space called The Guild KC.