The Pure Missouri Post: January 2023
All that’s well and good (and sometimes a little odd) in the Show Me State
Pure Missouri Post moving to 2nd Sundays
I’ve come to the realization that publishing both the weekly KC Downtown Loop and the monthly Pure Missouri Post on the first Sunday of the month interferes with one of my wife’s and my favorite activities: Attending First Friday weekends in Kansas City’s Midtown area, Crossroads Arts District, and the West Bottoms vintage and antiques district.
Our routine, when we have time, usually begins at Urban Mining Vintage Market on Thursday night, which is walking distance from our Midtown home. This is the spot where we probably have bought more vintage items than anywhere else in KC. My favorite? A sign advertising the defunct Cup & Saucer coffee shop, a pioneer in the River Market district that was, unfortunately, ahead of its time.
On Friday, we enjoy exploring and re-exploring where it all started: First Friday in the Crossroads. Not just a celebration of art and food and music, First Fridays to me is a celebration of all that is Downtown Kansas City. Make the most of it and ride the free streetcar north and south; hoof it along 18th Street east and west; and visit as many venues as possible. Among our art gallery favorites: Belger Art Center and its companion space, Belger Crane Yard Studios; Blue Gallery; the Bunker Center for the Arts; Buttonwood Art Space; Hilliard Gallery; Leedy-Voulkos Art Center; and Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art. But there are many, many more great options.
On Saturday or Sunday (sometimes both), we head to the West Bottoms for vintage and antique shopping. We usually only go to the stores on these weekends, but if you’re looking for places to take a break from panther clocks, farm tables, and mermaid salt-and-pepper shakers, try one of the coolest bars in the city, The Ship, or the elegant but laid-back Amigoni Urban Winery. Also check out Stockyards Brewing Co. (right next to the historic Golden Ox steakhouse) for beers with occasional vintage country music, or grab some coffee at Blip Roasters. There are lots of new places, too, which we’ll be trying soon.
But back to my original point: Beginning in February, look for the Pure Missouri Post on the second Sunday of each month. 😊
Mizzou’s Academic Hall burns in 1892
Around 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 9, 1892, a giant chandelier crashed to the floor and smoke filled the University of Missouri’s Academic Hall, alerting those inside and nearby that a fire, most likely caused by faulty electrical wiring, had started inside the building. Without the benefits of an adequate water supply or modern firefighting capabilities in Columbia at the time, the flames engulfed the nearly 50-year-old building. Just more than an hour after the chandelier had crashed, the fire reached the Cadet Corps’ ammunition supply, causing an explosion that made everyone run for safety.
"Soon the great dome burst with heated air and as the glittering showers of sparks were thrown against the sky, it seemed to us as if the great heart of the University had burst, and a feeling of gloom that will never be forgotten came upon those who beheld the spectacle." Charles M. Howell (Missouri Alumnus 1922).
The next day, only parts of a few brick walls and the six ionic columns that supported the building’s portico remained. The remnants of the walls were soon brought down with dynamite, and the columns, left standing temporarily, were slated to be destroyed by order of the board of curators in August 1893.
However, a contingent of university leaders and members of the public campaigned to save the columns. Gideon F. Rothwell, the president of the board of curators often credited as the leader of that group of campaigners, said, “Let the columns stand. Let them stand for a thousand years.”
In December of that year the board voted to rescind their earlier decision, and the columns were saved to become the enduring symbol of Ol’ Mizzou.
Truman receives 1,048 presents in 1947
On today’s date in 1948, a North American Newspaper Alliance story told of Harry S Truman’s record-breaking haul of gifts as president during the previous year. According to White House mail clerks, the Man from Missouri doubled the number of gifts ever sent to Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, or Calvin Coolidge.
The largest number of gifts were books, followed by fruit and other edibles, then apparel, particularly shirts and ties. (All the food was inspected before it was presented to the President.)
The article also noted that the president received 1,895,666 letters and messages in 1947, averaging more than 5,000 per day.
Missouri’s tallest skyscraper opens in 1988
The law firm of Shook, Hardy & Bacon was one of the first businesses to begin moving into Missouri’s largest skyscraper in late January of 1988. One Kansas City Place opened with 42 floors and a height of 623 feet (not including a 31-foot antenna spire). The glass building at 1200 Main Street was designed by architects Patty Berkebile Nelson & Immenschuh to mimic Kansas City’s 30-story Art Deco City Hall, which had stood just a few blocks east since 1937.
Shook, Hardy & Bacon has since moved a few blocks south to Crown Center, and St. Louis-base Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner is now One Kansas City Place’s largest tenant.
Missouri Super Bowl history
Of the Missouri teams’ five Super Bowl appearances (so far), three occurred in January, resulting in two Super Bowl championships:
Jan. 15, 1967: The Kansas City Chiefs compete in the first-ever Super Bowl, losing 35-10 to the vaunted Green Bay Packers led by quarterback Bart Starr at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. Because NBC holds rights to the AFL games and CBS holds rights to the NFL games, the first Super Bowl is broadcast on both networks.
Jan. 11, 1970: The Chiefs return to the Super Bowl three years later to beat the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. The next day 100,000 people will celebrate at the parade in Downtown Kansas City.
Jan. 30, 2000: In Super Bowl XXXIV, the St. Louis Rams — the “Greatest Show on Turf” — beat the Tennessee Titans 23-16 in Atlanta when Rams linebacker Michael Jones, a former Missouri Tiger, tackles Titans receiver Kevin Dyson just short of the goal line on the last play of the game.
The Chain of Rocks Bridge … and “castles” in the river
Writer Jackie Dana wrote about the Chain of Rocks Bridge and the surrounding area in 2022. I’m re-posting here because the entire story is fascinating, but it’s especially timely to read about tower watchman William Maas, who encountered a bit of trouble during our current month back in 1904….
LINK: Unseen St. Louis: A bridge, a park, a canal: Chain of Rocks
KC Zoo celebrates a rhinoceros baby
Officials say an eastern black rhino calf, a species on the verge of extinction, was born in the early hours of New Year’s Eve at the Kansas City Zoo. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are only about 740 black rhinos left in the wild and only 53 in facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The calf and its mother, 15-year-old Zuri, are doing well. The calf’s father, Ruka, was born at the Saint Louis Zoo and now resides at the Kansas City Zoo.
LINK: The Kansas City, Missouri, Zoo announces the birth of a rhino calf
A St. Louis sledding tradition is born
The wintertime tradition began in 1905 when World's Fair workers used folding chairs to ride down snow-covered Art Hill. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch tells the story with lots of photographs here:
LINK: It started in 1905: A brief history of sledding on Art Hill
Looking for something new to do in St. Lou?
The Riverfront Times recently highlighted several “new” places in St. Louis — “either opened in the last three years or [that have] gotten serious glow-ups during that time” — and I thought it was worth sharing with all of our readers.
LINK: 15 New St. Louis Places to Take Visitors — Or Even Just Yourself
KC’s steamboat museum not moving to St. Charles; future undetermined
The city of St. Charles and the Hawley family of the Arabia Steamboat Museum in Downtown Kansas City were unable to strike a deal after David Hawley signed a letter of intent in May giving St. Charles six months to come up with a proposal to relocate the museum there. Kevin Collison of CitySceneKC has the scoop:
LINK: Steamboat Arabia Museum Scuttles St. Charles Deal, Still Seeks New Port
A single image to represent “Our Missouri”
Art and artists of the Show Me State
“But the agony is over and Missouri is born into the Union, not a seven months baby but a man child; his birth no secret in the family, but a proud and glorious event, proclaimed to the nation with the firing of cannon, the ringing of bells and illumination of towns and cities.”
—The St. Louis Enquirer, March 29, 1820, after word had reached Missouri that Congress (weeks prior) had authorized the territory to draft a constitution in anticipation of becoming a state. Quote found in This Place of Promise: A Historian’s Perspective on 200 Years of Missouri History by Gary R. Kremer.
Missouri birthdays of note
John G. Neihardt
Jan. 8, 1881, in Sharpsburg, Ill.
Poet and author of A Cycle of the West and Black Elk Speaks. Poet-in-residence and lecturer at the University of Missouri from 1948 to 1965. Fame escalated further after appearance on The Dick Cavett Show.
Jan. 5, 1859, in Boone County
Born into slavery, became a world-famous horse trainer and rider out of Mexico, Mo., whose clients and admirers included Adolphus and August Busch, Buffalo Bill Cody, William Jennings Bryan, Will Rogers, P.T. Barnum, Queen Marie of Romania, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, and four U.S. presidents.
Dr. Thomas C. Unthank
Jan. 22, 1866, in Greensboro, N.C.
African-American physician and community leader in Kansas City, advocate for the opening of General Hospital No. 2 in 1908 — the first public hospital in the United States used exclusively for minority citizens.
Emily Newell Blair
Jan. 8, 1877 in Joplin
Writer, activist, and suffragist who had articles published in Outlook, Lippincott, Women’s Home Companion, Harper’s Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan, in addition to being associate editor of Good Housekeeping and publishing two books. Elected president of the Missouri Women’s Press Association in 1913; vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee in 1922, 1924, and 1926; and was appointed chair of the Consumer’s Advisory Board of the National Recovery Administration by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Instrumental in advocating for the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in 1920.
David Douglas Duncan
Jan. 23, 1916, in Kansas City
Photojournalist famous for his combat images from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam — in addition to being a close friend of Pablo Picasso, who gave Duncan unprecedented access to photograph the artist’s private life.
Thanks for reading and sharing this Pure Missouri Post. Stay well, be good, and keep in touch.
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