Our mission is to Preserve, Protect, and Promote the history of West Port, the Town of Kansas, and early Kansas City
Preserving The History of Westport
Please be patient with us.
The 1855 Harris-Kearney House Museum
will be closed for the remaining 2023 Season.
~ Reopening March 1, 2024 ~
Our furry little supervisor, Gracie, is making sure everyone's does a great job!!
“Sorry for the dust, it has blown over from our museum renovation into our website update too! We know it’s taking a while but sit tight and we’ll be back online by July 1st. Until then, please stay connected and current through Facebook, or by contacting us directly. firstname.lastname@example.org
We believe the importance of our mission deserves time to complete the renovation, transform our organization and programs, rework our website content, design, photography, videography, and the functionality of our website. Exciting changes are being developed.
We are a private museum funded only by donations and grants. The 1855 Harris-Kearney Historical House Museum does not receive financial support from Westport, the Kansas City Parks Commission, or any local or state government office in Kansas City, Jackson County, or the state of Missouri.
We depend on you.
The Harris-Kearney House was built in 1855,
the year Old West Port
looked like this >>
Painting by R. Greg Summers
The corner of Main and Main Cross Streets in 1857,
when the telegraph arrived in Westport.
View looking west at today's intersection of
Westport Road, and Pennsylvania Ave..
The 2023 interior renovations of the 1855 Harris-Kearney House Museum began when Tammy Reid and her husband Coach Andy Reid, generously donated the funds to renovate our main foyer and sitting room. This is the first major renovation since 1983, and over time, the walls had cracked from settling, the wallpaper was disintegrating into sand, and the brown woodwork needed its historically accurate paint color restored. As the renovation evolved, the restoration bug found the parlor and the dining room and the facelift for those rooms began. We are anxious to see the finished rooms, and we think you will be pleased.
The renovation has become a pivotal milestone for the future of the 1855 Harris-Kearney House Museum, and the Westport Historical Society. Like all things over time, change becomes necessary, and is often required. As a result, while working to preserve and enhance our cherished spaces and artifacts, we have come to the realization that we must do more. Specifically, we want to reimage, redo, reorganize, and restructure our mission, purpose, priorities, programs, vision, and the connection to the world outside of the museum. For many reasons, the world has moved on and we need to catch up to remain a relevant and viable resource in the community.
Many museums are struggling as we have been, with difficult and emotional decisions which determine whether museums survive in the post-pandemic world. According to an American Alliance of Museums (AAM) survey published in 2021: a third of museums across the country were expected to close within a year, with the smallest—and often more localized and culturally specific – being the most vulnerable to shutting down.
Survival was a driving force behind our founding pioneers who pursued their dreams and futures against all odds, and our team’s passion is no different when it comes to re-envisioning how to keep the importance of Westport’s historic value to our community, our city, and our country alive. In its beginning, Westport was a community filled with diversity which included neighboring and local Indigenous persons, people of color, people of different nationalities, races, ethnicities, and religions. We want to instill trust in our society, our museum, our board members, and our all-volunteer staff, as we meet our patrons’ and communities’ expectations. The governing WHS Bylaws were first written 38 years ago, with the current governing documents and our method of operation updated 13 years ago. Now is the time to make the changes necessary to move forward and enable us to be relevant and meaningful to a broad public audience in this post-pandemic era, and hopefully ensure our very survival. This task will take the combined effort of all of us to establish new ways of becoming a champion of diversity, equity, accessibility, inclusion, history, and education in the way we operate. To accomplish this, we need help guiding us through the process and we need time necessary to plan and accomplish our goal.
Over the next few months, the Executive Board, the Board of Directors, and the new Advisory Board will work with a facilitator who specializes in small museums and organizations like ours, and who will guide us through the challenges and necessary changes we face. The visionary board members of WHS and the volunteers have made the decision to dedicate the remainder of the 2023 season to the work involved in reimagining our museum and programs. The 1855 Harris-Kearney House will remain closed for the duration of our 2023 season, with plans to reopen at the beginning of our 2024 season, on March 1st. While closed, we will offer a few special programs with those details available on our website Calendar of Events. This is a significant decision, one which we believe will allow us to refocus our energy and efforts to make the most positive impact on a new future for the Westport Historical Society and the 1855 Harris-Kearney House.
As we reimagine the museum and its offerings, we will evaluate how to revise and rebuild WHS into a relevant and resourceful organization. To accomplish this, we believe it takes a community, one to which we want to be more connected. We will turn to our community and business leaders, our neighbors and schools, our membership, and our local museum colleagues to receive their contributions, constructive criticism, opinions, and suggestions through a series of round table discussions, or even one-on-one conversations. We want to genuinely become a more sustainable organization which embraces actions, diversity, history, equity, accessibility, education, and inclusion.
While finishing the renovations of the 1855 Harris-Kearney House Museum and planning our 2024 year and beyond, frequent updates documenting our accomplishments and special programs will be provided on Facebook and in a timeline on our website.
Thank you for your support.
We wish you good health and safe journeys,
Alana Smith, BS, MA
President, Westport Historical Society and the 1855 Harris-Kearney House,
a National Historic Site on the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon Trails.
President, Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area Advisory Group
Kansas City, MO 64111
816-561-1821, (c) 913-231-6749
The Museum's Temporary Closing
Be a Part of our Transformation
>> The links in this section will be published following updates make to each. <<
~ Our Story ~
~ Renovation ~ Updates
~ Donate ~
Artifacts, Historical Documents and Photos, and Time
We want to hear from everyone, including young students and their teachers, so please send us your suggestions with how or what you would like to see changed and newly offered, either:
EMAIL email@example.com, or
CALL 816-561-1821 to chat with one of us, or
SNAIL MAIL your suggestions to Westport Historical Society, 4000 Baltimore, Kansas City, Missouri 64111
ATTEND a Collaborative Conversation at the Museum. Watch for the schedule of times.
It will take a concerted effort of all of us, at every level, from board members to members of our community to succeed. We encourage you to join our collaborative effort with community members, community organizations, businesses, and students. We want your suggestions and we welcome your ideas in an effort to help us achieve better diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion (DEAI), educational programs and special events.