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Arts & Life

Historic Mansion Near Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Is Back On The Market — For Ten Times Its Selling Price

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Will Morris
Kansas City Star co-founder William Rockhill Nelson built this house for his daughter in 1910. Now, it's up for sale again.

A nearly two-year renovation project on the former Rockhill Tennis Club is coming to a close. And the owners are asking for a significant boost from the purchase price.

Eight bedrooms. Ten bathrooms. All for just under $3 million.

“This home is probably one of Kansas City’s most historic properties,” said owner and real estate agent Peter Caster.

In 1910, Kansas City Star co-founder William Rockhill Nelson built the mansion at 4520 Kenwood as a home for his daughter, Laura Rockhill Nelson Kirkwood. When Nelson died in 1915, he willed his nearby property and his fortune, after the death of his wife and daughter, to create a new museum, which opened in 1933 as The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

From 1944 to 2010, the five-acre Kirkwood property housed the Rockhill Tennis Club. And in 2018, the Nelson-Atkins put the estate on the market for $289,900, as part of an agreement reached with the neighbors. The museum retains several acres to extend the sculpture park.

Kansas City realtors Heather and Peter Caster, who’ve renovated other historic homes, closed on the deal in February 2019. Now, the property is back on the market, listed on August 8 at $2,990,000.

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Will Morris
The Kirkwood property is located just east of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

In 2019, Caster estimated that renovations to the mansion, vacant for nearly a decade, would cost about $500,000. But, when reached by phone on Wednesday, he said, with 95 percent of renovations complete, they’ve already spent about twice that amount.

“Plumbing and heating and cooling,” he described as problem areas. “The third floor didn’t even have air conditioning prior to our ownership. So creating ductwork and cutting through lath and plaster created plenty of challenges.”

Historic features of the property, such as radiators, tile, and original millwork, were preserved. More recent additions, such as some of the lockers from the former tennis club, were also incorporated into a 4,000 square foot gym.

And living inside a home, just adjacent to the museum, has had its perks.

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Gabe Hopkins
The first stretch of Andy Goldsworthy's 'Walking Wall,' a dry-stacked wall, started its journey in 2019 just east of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

In 2019, British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy and his team started work on ‘The Walking Wall,” a dry-stacked wall with stones from the Kansas Flint Hills, which inched its way across the museum grounds in five stages.

The first section was installed just north of the mansion, and, in 2020, reached its final location both inside and outside the Bloch Building.

And, when the work was complete, there were a few leftovers.

“They messaged us and we were allowed to take certain stones from the project and use them at our property,” Caster said. “We’ve got a stone path that leads to the secondary front door. And some of the other stones around the flower bed.”

He added, “It’s kind of an extra for whoever ends up being in the property.”

But, Caster said, if the right buyer doesn’t come along, they won’t mind staying.

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