Webster House in Kansas City

The historic Webster House has been transformed from a school to a beautiful shopping and dining destination. It stands next to the modern Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in the Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City, Missouri.

The historic Webster House has been transformed from a school to a beautiful shopping and dining destination. It stands next to the modern Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in the Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City, Missouri.

One of my favorite buildings to photograph is the Webster House, formerly the Webster School. It’s in the Crossroads Arts District of Kansas City, Missouri. 

Nutcrackers for sale at the Webster House

Nutcrackers for sale at the Webster House

It’s a beautiful work of art, designed in the “Richardson Romanesque” style.  What a grand place it must have been to attend school there! It’s lovely inside and out with fabulous interior wood woodwork. The school officially opened in 1886 and then closed in 1932. It was restored, opening in 2002, as a beautiful dining and shopping location. The Webster House has a beautiful bell tower, which is a reconstruction. The original was removed after another school’s bell tower fell during a tornado and caused the death of fifteen students.  I like to meet friends and family at the Webster House for lunch or dinner, served in a couple of lovely dining rooms, which were once school rooms.

Behind the Webster House are the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts and the Bartle Hall Pylons, architectural icons and modern additions to the Downtown Kansas City landscape.

The Webster School was designed by the Kansas City School Board’s architect, Manuel Diaz. Webster House is one of the oldest remaining public school buildings in Kansas City and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Webster School was the last area school built with a bell tower on top. In 1886 a tornado caused the bell tower on the Lathrop School at Ninth and Broadway to crash into the school, collapsing the third and second floors into the basement and burying children in the debris.  Bell towers were no longer permitted on top of schools after this tragedy. (Read comment from Craig Shannon in the comments section below for additional information about the construction of the school, including the bell tower.)

The old Webster School is now a restaurant and store. Here beautifully decorated trees display Christmas ornaments for sale.

The old Webster School is now a restaurant and store. Here beautifully decorated trees display Christmas ornaments for sale.

Beautiful cabinets that match the original woodwork of the old Webster School display jewelry for sale.

Beautiful cabinets that match the original woodwork of the old Webster School display jewelry for sale.

History of the Webster House.

History of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Crossroads Arts District.

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13 Comments

Filed under Education, Kansas City, Personal, Photography

13 responses to “Webster House in Kansas City

  1. That’s a beautiful tree and antique woodwork! Merry Christmas to you, Cathy, and all the best into the New Year! 🙂

  2. Wonderful images, Catherine. I can imagine sitting having a coffee with friends in one of those magnificent rooms; would certainly be a treat.
    It is such a quaint building, too; highlighted by the building in the background.
    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas; with whatever brings you joy.. 🙂
    xoxoxo

  3. Michelle

    Always a pleasure to read you posts.

  4. How important it is to preserve our past. AND to capture it so well in photos.

  5. Craig Shannon

    I don’t believe the bell tower or bell were in original construction. I actually work there and the history I’ve researched contradicts this. I think the storm that damaged Lathrop school was toward the end of construction at Webster. ..c. 1885/1886. The towers were outlawed and the Webster School never was fully completed due to this. There are pictures of the school c.1900 and no bell tower exists.
    After Mrs. Helzberg graciously took on this renovation the original plan for the tower was uncovered. My direct sources relay information that the bell now installed at the Webster House was in fact cast in Philadelphia in 1886…same year school completed. The bell was installed in a building ( I believe in St. Louis ). Adhering to the authentic renovations, the bell was purchased by Mrs. Helzberg and installed in the tower which was built in Kentucky and transported to Kansas City for installation. Also worth noting is the architect, Manuel Diaz, who was one of the earliest Latino-American architects in our country. He worked in the Richardsonian Romanesque style which was a very short lived but very influential style. Cheers to Mr Diaz and Mrs Helzberg for one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.

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