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Art Deco Building In Kansas City's Historic Northeast Competes For $2 Million

Laura Spencer
KCUR 89.3
The EGG (Economic Growth Gallery) in Kansas City, an art deco building dating from 1945.

A business and arts incubator in an art deco building in Kansas City is in the running for $2 million in grants through a Partners in Preservation: Main Streets campaign. 

The EGG (Economic Growth Gallery) building at 2659 Independence Avenue provides a pop-up space for entrepreneurs, as well as a third Friday gallery for local artists. The building first opened in 1945 as Rose Marie's Floral and Gift Shop.

Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
(left to right) Bobbi Baker-Hughes and Lonnie Clark stand outside The EGG after a recent open house.

"I think that The EGG really helps us to celebrate the women that we have in our community — those that have been there before us, and those who are yet to come," said Bobbi Baker-Hughes, president and CEO of the Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

"We have celebrated women in that space and place for a long time, but particularly our immigrant and refugee women who struggle initially to find their place in the business world and in the art world."

Lonnie Clark, urban design planner for the Independence Avenue Community Improvement District, described the current condition of the EGG building as "poor." The roof needs to be replaced, and alterations have been made over the years. But, he says, additional funds could return the 1940s building to its art deco glory.

Credit courtesy: Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce
A picture of Rose Marie's Floral and Gift Shop, circa 1950.

"There are glass block windows flanking the front entrance that are completely covered up that we want to re-expose," Clark said. "A ripped metal, what's called a string course or a band across the cornice of the building for the porch area, we'd like to restore that as well."

He added, "And then we also have plans for the interior, which we'll get more into after we know what kind of funding we're going to receive."

American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation teamed up in 2006 for the community-based Partners in Preservation program. This year, the program features 20 sites and buildings across the country that recognize women's contributions.  

The public is able to vote on one of the historic sites or buildings — up to five times a day — through October 29. The sites with the most votes will receive a share of the $2 million from American Express. Local partners also receive a $10,000 initial grant to raise awareness and support. 

"By highlighting historic places on main streets across America that are telling the stories of women, we hope to not only preserve these sites, but also amplify the women who have made our main streets what they are today," Katherine Malone-France, chief preservation officer at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, said in a release. 

To date, the program has provided more than $28 million for nearly 300 historic sites across the United States.

The winning districts will be announced on October 30.

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter at @lauraspencer

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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