2008 Honor Awards

February 27, 2008

Rozier Award

Day & Whitney Kerr

Prairie Park, home of the Kerr’s

Saline County
No couple could be more worthy of receiving an award that recognizes lifetime achievements in historic preservation than Day and Whitney Kerr.    For five decades they have demonstrated their commitment to historic buildings through their personal efforts and through their civic involvements. The Kerrs’ love for old houses, has led them to restore five homes since 1958.  These homes include a turn-of-the-century home in Kansas City built by William Rockhill Nelson, and Prairie Park, an 1849 Greek Revival mansion near Arrow Rock built by William B. Sappington.  The Kerrs received a Missouri Preservation McReynolds Award in 1997 for their restoration of Prairie Park.

Day Kerr served as a trustee of the Jackson County Historical Society and was a founder, president, and a longtime trustee of the Historic Kansas City Foundation. She has had a longtime association with the John Wornall House Museum in Kansas City and currently serves as its president.  From 1982 to 1995, she was president of the Friends of Arrow Rock, and she is also a trustee with the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre.

Whitney Kerr has spent his career in the real estate business.  He served four years on the Kansas City Landmarks Commission and on the first Union Station Commission. He is a past trustee and vice-president of the Jackson County Historical Society. Currently he is vice-president of Missouri Mansion Preservation, Inc. and president of the Missouri State Parks Foundation. 

In 2007, Day and Whitney Kerr were instrumental in founding an advocacy group, Citizens to Protect State Parks and Historic Sites. The Kerr’s great love for our common heritage has enriched the lives of countless Missourians and has ensured a bright future for many of our precious historic resources.  

Osmund Overby Award

Meeting Louis at the Fair
Carol S. Porter

St. Louis County
The preface to Carol Porter’s book Meeting Louis at the Fair describes how her lifelong fascination with St. Louis’ Forest Park culminated in writing this book on World’s Fair architect Louis Spiering.  While researching Sheldon Concert Hall, another of Spiering’s designs, Porter stumbled onto trove of unlabeled and undated photos organized in an album that Spiering titled “A History of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition – St. Louis, Missouri, 1902 – 1904.”  These images are published here for the first time.Porter introduces readers to the artistry and “plaster magic” of the St. Louis World’s Fair and to the man behind the camera, who also designed many of the buildings and the beautiful waterways that wove between them.  We meet Spiering, a handsome young man who died of cancer at the age of thirty-seven, seven months before the completion of the Sheldon Theatre.
Porter invites readers to follow her research and to experience “close-ups that no other photographer had reason to record, small buildings long forgotten and vistas composed to offer pointed commentary.”  This beautiful book allows anyone who ever enjoyed a trip to the St. Louis Zoo or to the Muny Opera, who relished a boat ride on the lake, or who was fascinated by the fantasy world of the 1904 World’s Fair to take a step back in time.

McReynolds Awards

Peter George

City of St. Louis & St. Louis County*
Peter D. George, Blue Shutters Development, L.LC, sees opportunities where other developers see only risks.  Yet, by taking risks, George has spearheaded the rejuvenation of dilapidated and economically under-served neighborhoods of Old North St. Louis. Using state and federal historic tax credits, George has transformed numerous abandoned buildings in the Fox Park, North City, and Hyde Park neighborhoods into owner-occupied residential units.  Over the past six years, he has led by example.  His efforts have shown other developers that these neighborhoods have valuable resources that are ripe for redevelopment.  His investments created synergy that has encouraged additional investments that are bringing long-neglected neighborhoods back to life.  

Shiloh Tabernacle Restoration and Preservation

Benton County
Shiloh Tabernacle is an open-air structure built on upright, hewn logs that support a heavy-timber frame with mortise-and-tenon joinery.  Built by early settlers to rural southwest Benton County, the tabernacle has provided a place for worship and community fellowship since 1873.  Said to be one of only two such structures still in use in Missouri, the Shiloh Tabernacle represents a unique piece of history. When members of the restoration committee began noticing significant deterioration that threatened the structure, the group coalesced to undertake a fundraising campaign in 2005.   They raised enough money by September 2006 to begin restoration. Most restoration materials came from the 23-acre tabernacle property.  To match the original construction, the restoration committee felled trees to replace deteriorated posts, beams, and braces, and carved new wooden pegs for the mortise-and-tenon joinery. The restored structure once again hosts weddings, funerals, family reunions, and other gatherings.   Unused contributions have funded an endowment to ensure the future maintenance of the historic structure. 

Preserve Missouri Awards

Brockman Building*

Howard County
The modest two-story Brockman Poultry Company Building stands near the Fayette County courthouse square.  The recent rehabilitation completed by Carlyle Foley was the first to utilize historic tax credits in the community. The 1915 building was designed with offices and commercial space at the front and poultry processing operations in the rear.   Over time, alterations included brick infill in the storefronts as well as partition walls, dropped ceilings, paneled walls on the interior.  The two-phase rehabilitation included restoring in-filled storefronts, high ceilings, and wood floors.  New windows and new mechanical systems were added throughout. The new custom-fabricated storefronts replicate images seen in historic photos and incorporate original cast iron pilasters, which were found half-buried in the side parking lot, as well as the original door, which was stored in the back of the building.  The building now houses retail shops and a banquet facility on the first floor, apartments on the second floor, climate-controlled storage in the basement.   It is once again a gem in downtown Fayette.

Oaks Apartments*

Clay County
When built in 1907, the Spanish Revival Oaks Hotel was an establishment for the vacationing elite, thousands of whom flocked to Excelsior Springs to partake of the local mineral water springs.  Nearly 100 years later, there were no development prospects for the building, which had been ravaged by fire several times.  Desperate to avoid demolition, the city tried everything, including listing the building on the auction site e-Bay.  Ultimately the Springfield development firm Carlson Gardner, Inc. purchased the building from the City of Excelsior Springs for the nominal sum of one dollar. A complex financing package included affordable housing tax credits as well as historic tax credits. The former hotel now houses thirty-eight one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom apartments for senior citizens.  In addition to restoring the wonderful Spanish Revival exterior, the project retained key interior features, such as terrazzo floors, woodwork, and the marble staircase. The Carlson Gardner team achieved their goal of preserving the building’s architectural integrity of the building while creating comfortable, modern apartments and restoring local pride in downtown Excelsior Springs.

Aladdin Hotel*

Kansas City, Jackson County
When it opened in 1925, the Aladdin Hotel was named the best new building of the year in downtown Kansas City.  By then end of the century, it had seen better days.  Wright Investment Properties, Inc. purchased the hotel in 2005 and embarked on a tax credit rehabilitation that would restore the hotel to its original grandeur.  A key component of the project was restoring the terra cotta ornament on the façade. The masonry contractor carefully repaired damaged figurines and cleaned the masonry to make the building look like new.  A new entrance canopy and projecting sign above the entrance recreated the hotel’s appearance from historic photographs. The interior received a boutique hotel treatment.  Work in the lobby included restoring the original checkerboard stone floor, refurbishing marble columns, and opening infilled windows.  French doors in the historic Zebra Room restaurant were restored and all 193 guest rooms received upgrades of finishes and fixtures.  The finished hotel meets the demands of today’s savvy travelers with a fresh look at history.

TWA Corporate Headquarters Building*

Jackson County
The design of the Trans-World Airlines (TWA) Corporate Headquarters Building in Kansas City, completed in 1956, utilized an innovative construction technology and incorporated sleek red panels in its curtain wall facade.  A 35-foot tall rocket, modeled after the Moonliner Rocket at Disneyland, stood on the building’s roof.  During the earliest days of jet-powered air travel, the Modern Movement architecture reflected TWA’s commitment to and optimism in the future.  TWA was a pioneer in the airline industry, and the company played a major role in the economic history of Kansas City.
By the end of the century, stucco panels completely obscured the forward-thinking Modern Movement design.  Removal of the panels enabled developer Brad Nicholson and El Dorado Architects to envision a future for the building.   The project they undertook sought to preserve the spirit of the building while improving the functionality of the design.
Originally, an alley bifurcated the first two floors of the 135,000 square foot building.  It had dual elevator cores, inefficient floor plates, and an awkward internal arrangement of spaces.  During the rehabilitation, the alley was enclosed and the floors expanded. The project created a rooftop garden with outdoor meeting areas and over 30,000 feet of native grasses and wildflowers.  Not only did this add insulation and reduce the amount of storm water runoff, but it transformed the roof into an architectural asset for building tenants. Fifty years after the building first opened a new rocket was ceremoniously installed on the roof.  Attendees included 350 employees of the current tenant, a major advertising firm, city officials, neighbors, and former TWA employees.  The TWA Building was the first Modern Movement building to receive historic tax credits in Missouri. 

Central Dairy Building*

Columbia, Boone County
One of the largest buildings in downtown Columbia, the Central Dairy Building is also unique for its sophisticated Beaux-Arts terra cotta facade.  The Kansas City architectural firm of Shepard and Wiser designed the original building in 1927.  Columbia architect Harry Satterlee Bill designed an addition in 1940 to match the original portion. 
A leading local dairy, Central Dairy occupied the building until 1959.  Later tenants included doctor offices, insurance companies, an appliance store, and Cassie’s Luncheonette. The Helmreich family has owned the building since 1961, when Herb Helmreich opened his appliance store. 
Don and Carla Helmreich have completed a tax credit rehabilitation that retained commercial tenants on the first floor and created five apartments on the second floor.  The meticulous work preserves a key building in downtown Columbia and recognizes the long-term commitment of the Helmreich family to the community. 

Michael Gleason Home

St. Joseph, Buchanan County
In 2006, the St. Joseph Landmarks Commission named the Gleason House to their list of most endangered properties.  The building was slated for demolition and there was little hope of saving it. 
Michael S. Gleason, co-owner of the Gleason and Pike Saloon, a stock trader, and a St. Joseph City engineering inspector, built the house in 1886.  It changed hands in 1911 and again in 1915, when it was purchased by John E. Downs, a Buchanan County Prosecuting Attorney and later a Missouri State Senator.  After years of sitting empty and neglected, owners, Kymberly Williams-Evans and Brian Owens rehabilitated this two-story Italianate home.
Work included repairing windows, tuckpointing masonry, and replacing the leaky roof.  Modern bathrooms and a gourmet kitchen bring this home into the twenty-first century. Floors were repaired and restored. All new electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems were installed. This beautiful historic house is now an outstanding example of preservation that has inspired others to pursue preservation in St. Joseph’s Cathedral Hill neighborhood.

Roberts Place Apartments*

St. Louis City
The Roberts Place Apartments was the first major redevelopment project completed in the City of St. Louis north of Delmar.  In an area long considered risky by developers, homes were deteriorating and uninhabited. This project demonstrated that redevelopment was feasible, encouraging other developers to undertake quality rehabilitations in the vicinity. Originally the Smith Academy and Manual Training School, the building was a private preparatory school built by Washington University in 1905.  By 1917 the St. Louis Board of Education owned the building.  It housed Blewitt Junior and Senior High School, Harris College, and most recently Enright Middle School.When purchased by brothers Stephen and Michael Roberts, the building, had been vacant for a number of years.  Deterioration included peeling paint, falling plaster, and broken windows.  Animals roamed the halls and vandals set bonfires inside.  The project faced numerous challenges.   The first was deciphering the building’s original window configuration.  Environmental remediation required careful attention to avoid damaging historic walls, trim, and interior finishes.  The basement gymnasium/cafeteria, a large library/lecture hall, and an upstairs gymnasium also posed design issues. The solutions included some unique two-level units and other units with tall ceilings and high windows. Following an $18,000,000 tax credit rehabilitation the building has encouraged other property owners to renovate properties

Wilhoit Building*

Springfield, Greene County
Since 1926, the Wilhoit Building has been one of the largest commercial blocks in downtown Springfield.  Built for local oil magnate Edward M. Wilhoit, the Wilhoit Building housed his company for decades.  Other early tenants included the Draghoun Business College and the Dillon Brothers Packard Automobile Agency.  By 2005, the ground floor automobile service bays had low, dropped ceilings and small rooms, while the upper floors contained a maze of partitions.  That year, the Matt Miller Company began a major rehabilitation of the building.  The project restored, and in some cases reconstructed, all of the commercial storefronts and carefully replicated an early vehicular door on the north wall.  Original terra cotta was cleaned.  New windows installed on the north elevation complement the original fenestration.  On the rear elevation, construction of a new brick retaining wall and stair structures redefines the elevation and provides better access to the second-floor apartments and to parking. The ground floor now houses retail shops, restaurants, and a large office tenant, while thirty-two spacious apartments fill the second floor.  The rundown, partly vacant property is once again a vibrant element of Springfield’s revitalized downtown. 

*Projects made possible in part by state and/or federal historic tax credits

2008 Honor Award Sponsors
Commerce Bank
Wolf & McCahan, LLC
Marsh and Company, PA
Murray’s Restaurant of Columbia