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This past weekend was just insane as far as the weather went. It was somewhere in the 50s I think, and there was no excuse to be inside. Nor had I any desire to be inside and waste a minute of the warm weather. Riding in shirtsleeves in Kansas City in January is pretty much unheard of, and I’ve gone and done it three days running!

This was the perfect opportunity to do my Truman Rd. photo ride that I’d been wanting to do for some months. I’ve got this notion to do a few photo rides where I’ll cover some of the highlights of about a 50-block stretch of a given street somewhere in the Kansas City urban core. There are a lot of interesting and frankly picturesque areas in KCMO that just don’t get the love they deserve, so I intend to photographically spotlight some of these very deserving yet under-appreciated and obscure parts of town. Truman Rd. is a prime example, hosting many buildings of considerable style, if faded glory.

This is my favorite image of the day, a detail from the cornice/roofline of the following building:

It’s up for sale right now. It had originally been a small movie theater and has most recently been a church. It’s got wonderful polychrome terra-cotta tile and cladding, much like many of the buildings of similar age, stature, and purpose in Westport and the Plaza. In fact, the fanciful faux-Spanish style is reminiscent of the Plaza architecture. There are other detail images of this building within the photoset for that particular ride.

Of particular interest to me is the detail of the colored tiles, which seem to be laid in a regular grid, but in no particular repeating pattern as regards repetition of a sequence of tiles. A goodly handful of the tiles are in a swastika pattern. I severely doubt that this building was designed or constructed by a Nazi sympathizer – I’m pretty certain it is too old for that, dating from the 1920s most likely, and the symbolism is therefore more likely to reference Native American or even some ancient design. The design and decoration of this building is a pastiche of several different historical and ethnic styles and nothing leads me to believe that anything in its decor was invested with sinister intent.

I think the Gaines Furniture building is another under-appreciated gem in Kansas City. From a distance of from a passing car, this broad, low, dark-brick “block” is unassuming and unexceptional, but when you inspect it more closely, you will discover there is a glorious stained-glass border all the way across the plate-glass display windows along the entire front of the building. It’s interesting to me that so much money was obviously slated for the glasswork of this building, and the rest of the architecture was so understated as to be almost a nonentity. I’m not sure what the original purpose of this block was; I’m almost certain it had been at least three separate shops originally.

This last is the tile-work in front of the central entry door into this building. When I have free time I may look into a couple of different local history archives and see if I can turn up any info on Karling’s on Truman Rd.

I’ve been wanting to stop and get a picture of this fantastic Brass door on a little two-story commercial which has a Mexican restaurant on the west corner entrance, and a Quinceanera-party supply store on the South (and main) entrance.

The respective shop-fronts/signage.

I took 95 photos of probably some 20-ish buildings. Plenty of detail photos of ones that I found interesting, mysterious, or in some other way attractive. I encourage you to check out the set and see a little section of KCMO you might not have seen before, but is worth checking out.

More will follow! I plan to visit and “record” many other streets in Kansas City, principally around my extended neighborhood of the Northeast, and in other interesting, older parts of town. I figure the West Bottoms, Downtown, and the Plaza get plenty of love, now it’s time for some of the rest of the Urban Core to enjoy the spotlight.

3 Responses to “Truman Rd. Photo-ride (and an upcoming project)”

  1. mixte says:

    The first photo is beautiful!

  2. Thank you! It was my favorite of the day.

    I’m scoping out more routes for future photo rides. I think this is going to be the most fun self-imposed assignment I’ve ever taken on.

  3. craigdurkee says:

    great pics and ride report

    love it

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