Historic Kansas City released on Tuesday its annual "Most Endangered" list of buildings and places that could be torn down, altered, or crumble "into obscurity."
This year's list contains at-risk closed schools, historic churches, and apartment buildings as well as sites such as baseball legend Buck O’Neil’s home, the Epperson House on the UMKC campus, and the Aladdin Theater in the historic Northeast.
The organization got its start in 1974 with a focus on historic preservation, but Board President Jim Wanser says the annual list has evolved over the years to include not only individual sites but also districts such as 18th and Vine, the Country Club Plaza, and Westport.
"Often, Historic Kansas City, we're perceived as trying to protect buildings from 1800s or the turn of the century, but it's much more inclusive for mid-century structures, some modern architecture," Wanser says.
"Preservation really has a broader context of neighborhoods and areas that are of historical significance to the city," he adds. "And so we’re hoping that the endangered list reflects that."
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Historic KC describes the Westport area as "one of Kansas City's most distinct places" and "in one of the fastest developing areas" of the city. These development pressures, especially in the last few years, put Westport on the list, says Executive Director Lisa Briscoe.
"Westport, in particular, is the largest area that's new to the list this year," she says.
"Before placing it on the endangered list, we went about overseeing the completion of a historic resources survey," Briscoe says, "so that we would understand the resources that were in place, so that as development took place, we could better understand the range of threat."
An extensive public planning process is ongoing, she says, and Historic KC will continue to work with the city of Kansas City, Missouri, and the Westport Regional Business League to develop a long-term plan for Westport.
Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter at @lauraspencer.