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PHOTOS: Replanting A 1910 Garden At The Kansas City Museum

The Kansas City Museum is in its third phase of a major restoration of Corinthian Hall, the old Northeast mansion that houses its collection. And the renovation doesn’t stop at just bricks and mortar.  A recent project aims to recreate the Georgian garden plantings that surrounded the mansion.

Lumber baron RA Long built Corinthian Hall for his family.  Construction was completed in 1910. At that time, three full-time caretakers tended the original garden and grounds. But all that’s left of them today are the sunken spaces.

The Kansas City Museum enlisted the help of the Westport Garden Club to discover the plants and methods they would need to make the garden historically accurate.

KCUR's Susan Wilson recently strolled the gardens with museum director Christopher Leitch, who talked about turn of the (19th) century garden trends.

"It was advocated by garden designers at the turn of the century to combine radically different colors, radically different leaf sizes, colors and textures in order to achieve the most robust and dynamic combination of visual experiences," Leitch said.  "I think we've accomplished that here at Corinthian Hall."

The Long family's grounds reflected the grandeur of their lifestyle, Leitch said.  (Their peers around the country were the Carnegies, Vanderbilts, Rockefellers and Pullmans.)

What flowers, plants and architectural features would be part of a 1910 garden?

  • Iris
  • Canna Lily
  • Castor Bean
  • Salvia
  • Pentas Flower
  • Petunia
  • Marguerite Daisy
  • Dusty Miller
  • Japanese Banana Tree
  • Sculptures
  • Carpet Gardens: densely and elaborately planted beds that they looked like hand-woven oriental carpets.

 This story was produced for KC Currents, which airs Sundays at 5pm with a repeat Mondays at 8pm. To listen on your own schedule, subscribe to the KCCurrents podcast.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Susan admits that her “first love” was radio, being an avid listener since childhood. However, she spent much of her career in mental health, healthcare administration, and sports psychology (Susan holds a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Bloch School of Business at UMKC.) In the meantime, Wilson satisfied her journalistic cravings by doing public speaking, providing “expert” interviews for local television, and being a guest commentator/contributor to KPRS’s morning drive time show and the teen talk show “Generation Rap.”
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