Tag Archives: Christmas

Country Club Plaza Christmas Lights

The shimmering Christmas lights of the Country Club Plaza Shopping Center are reflected in Brush Creek, Kansas City, Missouri.

Every Thanksgiving, the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, comes to life with Christmas lights that glow until mid-January. The Plaza was the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile. Established in 1922 by J. C. Nichols, the Plaza was designed architecturally after Seville, Spain.

Full Moon and Giralda Tower, Kansas City, Missouri Poster

Full Moon and Giralda Tower, Kansas City, Missouri

A friend and I wanted to photograph the full moon rising over the Plaza on the Saturday before Christmas.  We were hoping for a reflection in the water of Brush Creek, but the moon was hidden by clouds.  Then the moon appeared almost magically like a huge ornament in an opening in the clouds next to the Giralda Tower. This night is definitely one of the busiest times of the year on the Plaza, so many people were able to enjoy this spectacle.  The sidewalks, stores and restaurants were crowded with people.

The Giralda is a Kansas City landmark. It stands 138 feet (42 meters) tall at the corner of West 47th Street and J.C. Nichols Parkway. When urban developer J.C. Nichols visited Seville, Spain in the 1920s, he was so impressed with the 12th-century Moorish tower of Giralda that he built a half-scale replica in the Country Club Plaza. The tower was officially christened by then-Seville mayor Felix Morena de la Cova, along with an official delegate in 1967, the same year in which the both cities became sister cities.

The original Giralda tower was the minaret of the 12th century Muslim mosque; a Christian belfry was added in 1568. The name Giralda means “she who turns” – girar is to turn in Spanish, after the weather vane on top of the tower, a statue representing faith called El Giraldillo.

Plaza Carriage Rides, Kansas City, Missouri Poster

Plaza Carriage Rides, Kansas City, Missouri

Horse carriage rides are a popular activity on the County Club Plaza, especially during the Christmas season, when the buildings are aglow with tens of thousands of lights. I do worry about the horses, though.

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Vaile Mansion, Decorated for Christmas

Vaile Mansion, Independence, Missouri, in Snow Poster

Vaile Mansion, Independence, Missouri.

Each Christmas season, the Vaile Mansion in Independence, Missouri, is lavishly decorated for Christmas in a Victorian style. I recently toured the beautiful mansion with a friend, who had visited the mansion when it was decorated for a previous Christmas season. Each Christmas season’s decor is different, based on a Victorian theme. This year was a Victorian Christmas Romance. Some of the themed rooms, all decorated by different designers, were Phantom of the Opera, Sunflowers and Music, coordinated by the Vaile Victorian Society. Mother Nature added her own touch with a blanket of snow on the lawn. It was all gorgeous!

The Vaile Mansion in Independence, Missouri, is decorated every Christmas season, coordinated by the Vaile Victorian Society, with a Victorian theme and is open for tours.


The follow information about the Vaile Mansion is from three separate sources, which I have linked at the bottom:

Built by Colonel and Mrs. Harvey M. Vaile in 1881, the Vaile Mansion was “the most princely house and the most comfortable home in the entire west,” the Kansas City Times reported in 1882. Situated on North Liberty Street, a mile north of the historic Independence Square, according to the Vaile Mansion’s website.

The three-story Gothic-like mansion includes 31 rooms, 9 marble fireplaces, spectacular painted ceilings, flushing toilets. This mansion is one of the best examples of Second Empire style architecture in the United States. The Vaile Mansion was designed by Kansas City architect Asa Beebe Cross (1826–1894) in the Second Empire style; its design was reportedly inspired by a large house visited by Vaile and his wife Sophie in Normandy. The mansion is constructed of hand-pressed red brick, partially trimmed with white limestone.

Servant gossip and a local newspaper reporter’s description in 1882 of the mural on the ceiling over Colonel Vaile’s bed caused tongues to wag in Independence, Missouri. An Italian artist painted the mural titled “Innocence” of a woman rising from a bed. Part of her anatomy is revealed, which was the cause of the scandalous talk.

The mansion features thirty-one rooms with fourteen-feet-high ceilings decorated by French, German, and Italian artists. All of the original furniture was auctioned off when the estate left the Vaile family (the house was refurnished by the Vaile Victorian Society after 1983); however, the interiors still boast much of the original paintwork, nine marble fireplaces (one of which cost $1,500), and two of the three original chandeliers, originally intended for the White House (Harvey Vaile was able to purchase them for $800 while he was in Washington, D.C., because there was some flaw in them). State-of-the-art amenities original to the house include speaking tubes, gasoliers, indoor running hot and cold water, and flush toilets; equipped with a built-in 6,000 gallon water tank, the Vaile Mansion was the first house in Jackson County with indoor plumbing.

This chandelier — or upside down — Christmas tree hangs in the entry of the Vaile Mansion in Independence, Missouri.

The mansion was originally surrounded by a 630-acre estate (now reduced to 5.6 acres), which included a grape vineyard and an apple orchard. Vaile had a wine processing plant on his property, as well as a wine cellar capable of holding 48,000 gallons.

A “strong supporter of the abolitionism movement” with a passion for politics, Vaile was among the founders of the Republican Party in Jackson County. Vaile built his wealth by investing in several business ventures, primarily interests in the construction of the Erie Canal; he was also part-owner and operator of Star Mail routes, with rights for the route to Santa Fe.

Sophie Vaile died in 1883. Her husband lived in the house for 12 years afterward. The Vailes were childless, and Colonel Vaile bequeathed the mansion to a college. Relatives contested the will. The mansion turned into a retirement home until it was purchased after the owner’s death by Roger and Mary Mildred Dewitt, who gifted the mansion to the city of Independence in 1983. That year neighbors formed the Vaile Victorian Society, and they’ve been meticulously restoring, decorating and caring for the house ever since.

Vaile Victorian Mansion Official Website.

About the Vaile Mansion.

Mansion Visitors Have Themselves a Scandalous Victorian Christmas.

Scenes from the 2018 Vaile Mansion Victorian Christmas Romance. Each room is decorated, even the bathrooms.

 

 

The Ladies’ Parlor features one of a pair of chandeliers, original to the mansion, that were intended for the White House. The White House staff rejected the chandeliers, because they didn’t match. Vaile was able to purchase them for $800 while on a visit to Washington, D.C.

Click on any photo below to see a large size.

 

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Filed under Architecture, Christmas, History, Holidays, Kansas City, Photography

Have a Meowy Christmas and a Tail Wagging New Year!

This Gingerbread House, by pastry chef Greg Connolly, resembles the Wayside Waifs building with its characteristic silo.  It greets visitors, staff and volunteers who come to Wayside Waifs.

This Gingerbread House, by pastry chef Greg Connolly, resembles the Wayside Waifs building with its characteristic silo. It greets visitors, staff and volunteers who come to Wayside Waifs.

Greg Connolly, a pastry chef, created and donated this cute gingerbread house to Wayside Waifs, where it is displayed in the entry hall for the Christmas season. Wayside Waifs is a no-kill animal shelter in Kansas City, Missouri.

The house shows a cookie squirrel on Wayside Waifs’ signature silo rooftop. Along the dogbone fence, written in the snow in yellow, is “Fleas Navidad.”  Don’t miss the fire hydrant, and look for the dogs wearing Christmas sweaters and the grinning snowmen in the frosty yard.  Inside, I’m sure there are kitties tucked in bed, waiting for Santa to bring a jingle ball.

From the Wayside Waifs website: “Wayside Waifs is committed to finding homes for all adoptable pets. Wayside is the largest pet adoption center in Kansas City, placing over 5,400 animals each year in loving forever homes. Wayside does not euthanize adoptable animals, and there are no time limits for animals in our care. Only animals suffering from significant medical issues or those that pose a danger are humanely euthanized. Wayside Waifs is proud to be a part of Kansas City’s no kill community.”

UPDATE:  Here’s a video of puppies enjoying this gingerbread house.

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Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, But He’s Just a Little Late This Year

 

Virginia, an eight-year-old stray Calico cat, is looking for a home.

I visited Wayside Waifs the day after Christmas — Boxing Day.  I’d hoped that someone would have gently placed Virginia in a gift box (with air holes, of course) and taken her to her forever home for Christmas, but she was still there.  She’s a big, beautiful Calico cat who was found as a stray.  Sadly,  no one has come looking for her. She’s very sweet, though a bit shy. I was happy today to see that Virginia is the featured Feline Waif of the Week at Wayside Waifs!

Santa is still on his way, Virginia. Santa, if you need directions, Wayside Waifs is at  3901 Martha Truman Road, Kansas City, MO 64137, 816-761-8151. (Santy Claws, featured  in my previous post, found a forever home. Hurrah! Or, maybe I should say, Ho, Ho, Ho!)

I hope Santa is on his way with a forever home, Virginia!

About Calico Cats.

Wayside Waifs.

About Boxing Day.

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Full Moon

The full moon hung like a huge ornament over the Christmas lights of the Country Club Plaza shopping center in Kansas City.

The full moon hung like a huge ornament over the Christmas lights of the Country Club Plaza shopping center in Kansas City on Saturday. When we rounded the curve of Ward Parkway in our car, the sight was breathtaking. At a red light on a bridge over Brush Creek, I jumped out and snapped a couple of shots. I knew they were blurry, but we'd stopped traffic so I couldn't get any more. A woman, who had walked onto the bridge, was also photographing the scene. "Isn't it crazy beautiful!" she exclaimed. I agreed. Next year, I'll set up a tripod and take a proper photograph. This year, you have to pretend it's a painting by Claude Monet.

The full Moon adorned the glowing Bloch Building on Saturday.  You can see the moon in the center between the trees.

The full moon adorned the glowing Bloch Building on Saturday. You can see the moon in the center between the trees. Actually, this photo was taken one day after the moon was full, but it's still an impressive sight (much more so in person, really!) On Friday night, the moon appeared 14 percent bigger in our sky, because it was at its closest point to Earth this year. It was also 30 percent brighter than some other full moons during the year, according to space.com. The moon makes a trip around Earth every 29.5 days, but the orbit isn't a perfect circle. On Friday night, the moon was 221,560 miles (356,567 km) away. The average distance is 238,855 miles (384,400 km).

You can't see the moon here, but the Bloch Building creates its own glow.  The Bloch, a new addition to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, houses contemporary art.

You can't see the moon here, but the Bloch Building creates its own glow. The Bloch, a new addition to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, houses contemporary art.

Moonlight iluminates the sky above the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City on Saturday.  One of the Nelson's four giant shuttlecock sculptures, by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, looks as if it just landed on the front lawn.  There are four shuttlecock sculptures among the many sculptures in the Nelson's Sculpture garden, including a dozen monumental bronzes by Henry Moore and a cast of The Thinker by Auguste Rodin.

Moonlight illuminates the sky above the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City on Saturday. One of the Nelson's four giant shuttlecock sculptures, by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, looks as if it just landed on the front lawn. There are four shuttlecock sculptures among the many sculptures in the Nelson's sculpture garden, including a dozen monumental bronzes by Henry Moore and a cast of The Thinker by Auguste Rodin.

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