Kansas City, KS Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building (KS)

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Kansas City, KS Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building (KS)

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Kansas City, KS Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building (KS)

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Kansas City, KS Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building (KS)

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Kansas City, KS Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building (KS)

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Information

Title

Kansas City, KS Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building (KS)

Creator

Rose and Peterson, architects

Date

groundbreaking May 24, 1923;
cornerstone laid May 26, 1924;
formally accepted by city on June 8. 1925

Description

Like many memorial buildings erected after World War I, the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building--often called Memorial Hall--combines a memorial function with a civic auditorium (that originally had a seating capacity of 3,532). The substantial and regal building was designed by Rose and Peterson, the leading architects of the city. Baer Engineering Company was the contractor. The land and construction costs together were a hefty $542,475.01; the use of city funds was approved by a special election on July 12, 1921.

The building served briefly (1925-1927) as the national headquarters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Like many such buildings, it later evolved into a concert venue. The building still retains most of its original features, but it now seems to serve mainly as a host for the local roller derby team and as a wedding venue.

The inscription on the entablature reads:

Dedicated to the heroes who
fought and died for their country

Justice actuated their heroism
Liberty inspired their courage
"Let us resolve that these dead
shall not have died in vain."

From the 1985 nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places:

"The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building is a masonry building measuring 213 by 168 feet, with a single entrance portico projecting to the east and a corresponding projection of the stage loft on the west. The side walls linking the stage projection to the main north and south facades are angled due to the interior auditorium layout. The structure is reinforced concrete tile block, faced on the exterior with a warm brown brick trimmed with limestone and cream-colored terra cotta. The building contains three stories and a basement, with a raised attic running the length of the middle third of the building from the attic screen of the front portico to the higher stage loft at the rear. The portico is classical in design, but the remainder of the exterior is more nearly Georgian in its restraint, a feeling emphasized by the predominance of eight-over-eight double-hung windows.

The entry portico consists of six stone Tuscan columns, three stories in height, set in antis between flanking blocks containing fire stairs. The entablature above the columns is plain, in keeping with the Tuscan order, with a frieze unornamented save for incised letters giving the name of the building and paired swags in relief at the ends. The cornice is very pronounced, with details borrowed from the Doric order. Above the entablature is a high parapet or attic screen. The base and cap of the parapet are of stone and the wall is brick with terra cotta panels including inscriptions and two flanking eagles in high relief.

Behind the columns of the portico, five double doors topped with elaborate stone cartouches containing small bullseye windows open into the Memorial Hall. This two-story space measuring 45 by 73 feet functions both as a memorial and as the building's lobby. On the west side of the Memorial Hall is a second set of five double doors, leading into the foyer of the auditorium. Above these doors on the second floor is an arcaded gallery looking out over the Hall, the five arches matching those enframing the entry opposite, while three corresponding arches grace the north and south walls.

Appropriate to its purpose, Memorial Hall is the most elaborately detailed space in the building. A wainscot of Carthage marble runs around the perimeter of the room, supporting twelve engaged Corinthian columns and four corresponding corner piers executed in plaster, the columns and piers separating the sixteen arches. Other decorative plaster work includes multiple mouldings, large bas reliefs of laurel and olive branches surmounting the arches, and decorated ceiling beams. Under each of the arches is an inscription of a patriotic or memorial quotation. Two large bronze chandeliers hang from the ceiling. The ceiling lights in the gallery are handsome milk glass globes with incised or painted classical decoration. Similar globes are placed within the Memorial Hall chandeliers. In the central arches of the north and south walls are two large bronze plaques enframed with Carthage marble, giving the names of the honored dead. Originally, ticket windows were set into the easternmost arches between the memorial plaques and the outside doors. These openings were subsequently filled in to allow the placement of plaques giving the names of the World War II dead."

For the entire nomination form, see: http://www.kshs.org/resource/national_register/nominationsNRDB/Wyandotte_SoldiersandSailorsMemBldgNR.pdf

Location

600 N. 7 th Street
Kansas City, Wyandotte County, Kansas

Contributing Institution

Bill Fischer, Jr.