Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Unique Modern Home Lost in Kansas City

Recently a friend posted on a question on Facebook about where to see good Mid-Century Modern architecture in Kansas City. I'm not to familiar with KC'c MCM neighborhoods, but was going to post the location of my favorite house in the city, which my cousin many years ago referred to as the E house. The unique structure, also apparently known locally as the inverted L house was perched on a hill in the Westside neighborhood just southwest of Downtown Kansas City. The house it turns out was not MCM, but the vision of an eccentric business man named Jim Tharp in the early 1980's.

I looked on Google maps to find the home's location, but couldn't find it where I thought it was located. After finding some photos I had taken of the house around 2005 I noticed the red brick home in the background of the photo above. After consulting Google again, I realized the head turning home was gone!
Who would demolish such a unique structure? According to an article in the Pitch from October 2006, a pair if shameless real estate developers had slated the home to be demolished the following year and the site along with several adjacent vacant lots were to be filled with a new development of eight Victorian style million dollar plus McMansions. The house may have been demolished for nothing, as six years later aerial views show no neo-Victorians on the vacant land, although the development's website is still active. Several photos of the demolition of the E house were posted on an a KC development discussion forum.
At one time a Wright inspired condo tower was proposed to be built on a vacant site just south of the home. The renderings strangely show the E house in the background which would have been completely overpowered by the view blocking tower. The tower was never built either. 
The demolition of such a blatantly modern home in Westside is sad, especially since the neighborhood, which was originally developed in the Victorian era has become an attractor of many new contemporary infill structures in the last decade or so. 
These are a few I photographed in 2005 and many more contemporary homes have been built since then including a home by the architectural firm El Dorado, and a mixed use corner building housing framework design. Also nearby is a development of modern townhomes overlooking Downtown Kansas City and a very contemporary rehab of an older house.


Chris said...

Paul, will you please deactivate the text recognition test for comments? They've become almost completely unreadable to even a human.

john w. said...

This house was always an amusing site on the west side of I-35, best seen from the northbound lanes heading toward DT KC.