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Kansas City moving forward with plan to turn Satchel Paige's home into a museum

A woman wearing a shirt with the words "Santa Fe Area Council" stands in front of a three-story house that lies behind a chain-link fence.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Santa Fe Area Council President Marquita Taylor spoke on Friday about a plan to rehabilitate the 112-year-old home into a museum, office and events space.

Plans to turn the Kansas City home of baseball legend Satchel Paige into a museum with office and event space are official, after the Kansas City Council voted last week to rezone the lot into an urban redevelopment district.

“We want this to be a place where the community sees … they're welcome and they want to show it off,” said Vincent Gauthier, managing director of Pitch Perfect KC, a company developing the property for the Leroy Satchel Paige Home Corp. nonprofit.

Kansas City, Missouri, issued a request for proposals last year asking for individuals or organizations to pitch ideas for the house’s redevelopment. Pitch Perfect KC’s plans were ultimately chosen.

Gauthier said the project could break ground this fall and the restoration should take about two years to finish, at a cost of $3.5 million.

But the redevelopment is not just about baseball, he added.

“We'll be able to share about Satchel, more than just as a pitcher, but really as an icon for the community,” Gauthier said, “what he did with social justice issues, racial issues.”

The 112-year-old house, at 2626 E. 28th St., in the Santa Fe neighborhood, has sat vacant since about 2004. It was damaged by fire in 2018 but was repaired with grant money after being purchased by the Kansas City Homesteading Authority.

Paige bought the home in 1950, shortly after the neighborhood integrated, following a 1948 Supreme Court case that struck down restrictive covenants limiting where African Americans could live.

A three-story brick home sits behind a chain-link fence. Fire damage can be seen in the upper, wooden parts of the home.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
A 2018 fire charred the interior and exterior of Satchel Paige's former home. Pitch Perfect KC says it will cost $3.5 million to complete the rehabilitation.

A changing neighborhood

Adrian Foster lives and grew up directly across the street from Paige’s home, and has seen the interest build in the house.

“As a child, I never would've thought that this would become a reality, but here we are,” he said. “I'm just happy that people (are) finally starting to look more into it, finally starting to give it the change that it really needs.”

Foster acknowledged the development would mean more activity on his street, but he said he won’t mind.

“I got used to seeing traffic there day after day after day,” Foster said. “Once this really gets fixed up and is fully actualized … that traffic's only going to exacerbate even more. But that's OK.”

Santa Fe Area Council President Marquita Taylor said she’s happy for the project to officially get underway, but noted there are still funds needed to accomplish the nonprofit’s vision.

Taylor said she wants to see small businesses use space in the home, and is looking forward to seeing the first floor redeveloped as a museum. She also hopes the change will help the neighborhood feel more historic.

“What we want to do is to, certainly, think back to what the neighborhoods looked like back then,” she said. “We've talked about this for years and years, we have been able to place our input, so this is our hope.”

But for Taylor, the most important part of this restoration concerns Paige’s daughters.

“They are very open with conversations about what it was like and how they lived and how proud they are of their dad, “ she said. “It’s beautiful to sit and watch them and listen to them talk about it. All of that information we hope to have for visitors who come here.”

As KCUR’s general assignment reporter and visual journalist, I bring our audience inside the daily stories that matter most to the people of the Kansas City metro, showing how and why events affect residents. Through my photography, I seek to ensure our diverse community sees itself represented in our coverage. Email me at carlos@kcur.org.
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