News From HKC.

Press Releases

Board of Education Building Demolition – Position Statement

Historic Kansas City sadly acknowledges the intended demolition of the stately Board of Education Building located at 311 E. 12th St. by Copaken Brooks.

The Board of Education Building has been vacant since the KCMSD moved offices to its current location. Before it was owned by the school district, the building served as the Kansas City Public Library’s main branch. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and designed by Edward W. Tanner & Associates, this building is an outstanding example of the Modern Movement: International Style – specifically the influence of Miesian design.

Recent changes to the federal and Missouri historic tax credit programs contributed to thwarting several renovation proposals. The historic structure would be demolished in connection with a proposal at 13th and Grand, which thus far remains a proposal.

Historic Kansas City recognizes the need for Downtown to evolve and adapt to a changing set of office, retail, and economic circumstances. Circumstances may be changing dramatically even at the present moment.  We are not adverse to development but want it to proceed in a manner that reflects the historic and scenic nature of the Civic Mall plan that includes the three iconic art deco designed buildings, City Hall, Municipal Court and County Courthouse. One of Downtown’s strongest cultural attributes.

Whatever the future holds for this site, any infill development proposal must be compatible with the Civic Mall plan. Further, the colorful historic glass mosaic tile murals should be preserved in consultation with the Kansas City Municipal Art Commission.


May 21, 2020

KNICKERBOCKER APARTMENTS – Statement from Historic Kansas City

After years of sitting vacant, the far eastern section of the KNICKERBOCKER APARTMENTS at 501 Knickerbocker Place in Midtown Kansas City, was damaged by fire this morning. The building complex is currently vacant and there have emerged no viable rehabilitation options according to the owner Kansas City Life. Over these many decades, the Valentine Neighborhood Association has made significant efforts to engage and work with the owner.

Listed on Historic Kansas City’s “Most Endangered List” since 2011, the Knickerbocker Apartments represent an important subtype of the Kansas City Colonnaded apartment, a departure from the typical apartment complex of the period. With their prominent porches and a wide expanse of front lawn, they remained the largest apartment group in Kansas City until around 1921. The building is a representative and rare surviving example of the work of L. G. Middaugh. Built in 1906 in the Century Revival style for developer James A. Rose, the Knickerbocker Apartments are located on what remained as one of Kansas City’s few private streets until it was deeded to the city in 1958.  The elegance and prestige of the Knickerbocker were highly expressed in its design features and its private street status.

In 1966 Knickerbocker Place was purchased from the Charles F. Curry family by Kansas City Life Insurance for future expansion of their facilities. In 1981 an attempt to protect Knickerbocker Place from demolition was made by the Valentine Neighborhood Association and the Landmarks Commission of Kansas City. The owner stated that the cost of saving the buildings would place undue hardship on Kansas City Life and that the addition of a new Computer Center to the company’s facilities at Broadway and 36th Street outweighed the issue of preserving the Knickerbocker apartments. In 1982, the north building (500-530 Knickerbocker Place) was demolished. One-half of the complex still remains.

Although listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003, the National Register provides limited protection. If there is no federal funding, license, or permit involved in a demolition or any proposed new construction on the site, the owner has absolutely no obligation to confer with local officials. As owners’ consent is a matter of City Council custom and practice, an attempt failed to designate the property in 1981 to the Kansas City Register of Historic Places. The Knickerbocker Apartments is a unique and rare surviving example of the Kansas City Colonnaded apartment. Successful models for renovation of historic Midtown apartment properties can be found up and down Armour quite nearby Knickerbocker.


May 21, 2020

2019 Preservation Awards – Call for Nominations

Nominations for 2019 Preservation Awards Open

Each year the Historic Kansas City presents the Preservation Awards to a select group of individuals, organizations, and businesses for projects from throughout the Kansas City area which exemplify outstanding achievement in the field of historic preservation. The awards honor projects involving the preservation or protection of historic resources including the restoration, rehabilitation and/or adaptive reuse of historic properties; sympathetic new additions to historic buildings; or education, documentation, and advocacy work on behalf of preservation of our heritage.

Nominations for the 2019 National Preservation Awards open December 30, 2019, and will be accepted through February 3, 2020, 11:59 pm local time. See each award category below for more information.

  • Category 1 Best Adaptive Re-Use: Awarded to a project that is an exemplary example of creative, innovative and appropriate re-use of a historic structure. The current use of the building must differ from its historical use. 
  • Category 2 Best Preservation Practices: Awarded for a restoration project that has undergone work in rehabilitation, restoration or reconstruction that allows for the continued original use of the structure. 
  • Category 3 Contemporary Design in a Historic Context: Awarded to a project that displays appropriate and innovative contemporary design in a historic context. Any contemporary building located within a historic context is eligible, including a major addition to a historic building. The project is expected to respect and complement the historic integrity of its setting. Nominations should focus on significant aspects of the historic setting and the manner in which the contemporary design acknowledges and complements them. 
  • Category 4 Innovation in Preservation: Recognize projects that show innovation (such as Blue and Green Architecture, Financing, Technology) and push the preservation movement forward.
  • Category 5 Outstanding Work by a Craftsperson: Recognizes high-quality work that demonstrates an understanding of the principles and practice of preservation techniques on a specific project. It is not intended to reflect lifetime achievement. The nomination must include photographs of the work and descriptions of the obstacles faced by the craftsperson in performing the work, innovative techniques or materials used in the project, and the process involved in the work, including research where applicable. 
  • Category 6 Neighborhood Stabilization Award: Awarded to a project, individual, business or group that has greatly contributed to the revitalization of a historic neighborhood or reclamation of abandoned or poorly maintained property or structure.
  •  Category 7 Richard Nadeau Award for Organizational Achievement: This award recognizes outstanding achievement in preservation activities by a group, business, municipality, neighborhood or other organization. The award nomination evaluation will be based on outstanding achievement for a significant project or for a lengthy period of dedication to preservation activities. 
  • Category 8 Jane Flynn LEADERSHIP Award: Individual or joint partnership that has championed historic preservation, planning, or public policy. 
  • Category 9 George Ehrlich Award: Awarded to a group or individual for an outstanding publication in preservation, history, urban design or a related topic.

Award Timeline

  • December 30, 2019: Nomination period opens
  • February 3, 2020: Nomination forms due at 11:59 p.m. local time.
  • By March 2020: Nominators and award recipients notified.
  • March 2020: The award winners will be honored at the HKC Historic Preservation Awards event. Award recipient is required to be present at the award presentation.

Eligibility Requirements

  • A completed nomination form must be submitted.
  • Projects and activities must have been completed during the 2019 calendar year.
  • HKC will accept both self-nominations and nominations without the knowledge of the nominee.
  • Awards may not be given in all categories and more than one award per category may be made.
  • Awards are chosen and conferred at the discretion of the Historic Kansas City Board of Directors.
  • Projects are to be located within the following counties:
  • Missouri: Clay, Jackson, Platte
  • Kansas: Johnson, Wyandotte


Nomination Requirements

In order to be considered a nomination including the following must be submitted by February 3, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. local time:

  • A completed nomination form that includes:
  • A one-page narrative explaining why the nominee deserves area-wide recognition. Describe the challenges overcome, unique strategies used, efforts to incorporate sustainable practices, positive impact on the community and overall contribution to historic preservation. Provide in either Word or PDF document.
  • If any Federal or State programs providing financial assistance to the project, please list.
  • Five (5) photos as attachments. At least five high-resolution digital images, each titled with the name of the nominated project. Digital images must be submitted in the form of JPEG files. Before and after images showing the preservation, the process is encouraged.

Application Fee

  • There is NO application fee for HKC general membership for the following categories:
    • Jane Flynn LEADERSHIP Award
    • George Ehrlich Award
    • Richard Nadeau Award for Organizational Achievement
    • Neighborhood Stabilization Award
  • There is NO application fee for HKC Business Members or Corporate Sponsors for any nomination category.
  • There is a $150 application fee per project for non-HKC members/sponsors for the following categories:
    • Best Adaptive Re-use
    • Best Preservation Practices
    • Contemporary design in a Historic Context
    • Innovation in Preservation
    • Outstanding Work by a Craftsperson


Nomination Form

December 27, 2019

2019 Most Endangered List

Kansas City, MO, August 19, 2019 – Historic banks. Corner commercial stores. Old gas stations. Historic apartment buildings. Places we pass by so often we no longer notice. But these places face threats everyday – perhaps more so because we’ve grown accustom to seeing them.

That is why HKC manages this list to highlight important historic buildings, districts and landscapes that are in danger due to threat of demolition, poor condition, neglect, alterations, poor maintenance, redevelopment pressures, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy, or lack of funds.

Many historic places throughout the city are endangered. The endangered list is intended to provide a wide exposure for the value and plight of these historic resources, in the hope that interested parties within the community can come together to provide concepts and solutions which will return these assets to a vital use while preserving their historic character.

“The list of Most Endangered Buildings calls attention to threatened one-of-a-kind resources throughout Kansas City and galvanizes the local community to help save them,” said Jim Wanser, president of Historic Kansas City. “We also know that many important places throughout Kansas City remain endangered,” said Lisa Briscoe, executive director of Historic Kansas City. “Buildings that once seemed safely preserved can later confront new, unforeseen threats.”

Two examples of endangered buildings that have recently been saved include the Kemper Arena/Hy-Vee Arena, 1800 Genessee Street and the Hotel Savoy/21C Museum Hotel, 219 W. 9th Street, both of which were recognized for their successful rehabilitation with Preservation Awards this year.  The use of the federal/state historic preservation tax credit was an essential factor in making these award-winning projects possible. As you read the 2019 Most Endangered List, note the importance of Historic Tax Credits in the future preservation of these historic Kansas City buildings.

This year’s list includes a century-old saddlery & mercantile store, a bank, African-American sites, commercial districts and corridors, modern architecture, and neighborhood commercial nodes. Historic properties are selected for listing based on several criteria; sites must be listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places or the KC Register of Historic Places, and sites must be subject to a serious threat to their existence or historical, architectural integrity.

The list is based on information publicly available at the time of deliberation and allowing a reasonable interval for preparing the list and publishing it.  The list is a call for action by all stakeholders. It follows no prioritization order.

August 14, 2019

Plaza Bowl Special Character Overlay District

Following a two year process involving dozens of property owners, city officials, developers and citizens, the Council approved the third expansion of the Plaza Bowl Overlay District, championed by Councilwoman Shields and led by HKC. As a city ordinance, it codifies existing recommendations, adding more “teeth” to height and use regulations for the heart of our iconic Country Club Plaza.

The goal of the Overlay is to preserve the character and integrity of the Plaza, maintain the Plaza Bowl concept, and protect the property values and expectations of Plaza property owners, residents and visitors. The overlay district is a major “win” for preservation in Kansas City.

How did we get here? Adoption of the overlay was a top priority of the Midtown Plaza Area Plan, resulting from 3 years of community engagement, of which HKC was a major player. Adoption of the overlay district enables future developers and current owners to reasonably rely upon and predict what heights and uses will be allowed for future buildings.
HKC’s position: Would it not be better for everyone if we have a clear development policy that no longer necessitates neighborhoods bringing 500 people down to city hall to fight development that is inconsistent with the Plan. An overlay district will defuse sometimes contentious and protracted processes that take away from a coherent and orderly development of the concentric rings around the base of the Country Club Plaza.

Current property owners already have substantial investments in the Plaza area. 50% of the impacted developers/landowners, Taubman (owners of the Plaza), area neighborhoods and stakeholders support this overlay. No one is averse to development. We want reasonable development consistent with City adopted policy, the Midtown Plaza Area Plan.

June 14, 2019

2019 Most Endangered Nominations Form

Historic Kansas City has used its annual list of Most Endangered Buildings to spotlight important examples of architectural and cultural heritage that were at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.

Do you know of a threatened historic place? If so, nominate it for the 2019 list of the Most Endangered. Nominations will be accepted until Monday, July 8, 2019.

Inclusion on the Most Endangered list has proven beneficial for Kansas City’s historic places. For some properties, nomination to the list is a last chance for survival.

A “Most Endangered” designation:
• Focuses media and public attention on the plight of threatened historic places
• Spurs positive action and generates public support
• Creates opportunities for preservation solutions

What is an endangered property?
• A threatened historic place important to the community
• An irreplaceable local landmark fallen into disrepair
• An architecturally significant building or structure that’s been abandoned
• A historic district or building type threatened by poor planning or public policy

If you know of a historic resource that fits these descriptions, do something!

Nominate the property for inclusion on the Most Endangered list and make the effort to preserve it heard around Kansas City. The nomination process is simple, see attached.

Nominations will be accepted until Monday, July 8, 2019.

June 06, 2019

2018 Preservation Award Winners

Historic Kansas City is pleased to announce the winners for the 2018 Historic Preservation Awards.

April 01, 2019