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 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..
To Friends and Supporters of the Westport Historical Society,
The Story of the Geranium Plant
In the late nineteenth century, there were two families living on the same street. One family was very successful.
The other family seemed to have fallen on hard times. The father was not seen leaving for work every morning or
returning every evening. The children did not always attend school. Their once fine clothes appeared dirty and
worn. The house was in need of repair and the yard filled with weeds and overgrown plants. As the season of
gifting and holiday cheer came ‘round, the successful family gathered to make out their list of gifts and recipients.
When the name of the struggling family came up, they were perplexed as to what would be an appropriate gift to
help them. After much thought and discussion, it was decided to gift the family with a beautiful geranium plant.
The family was thrilled with their gift! They gave it pride of place in the front window of their parlor. Each member of the family remarked on the plant’s beauty and how honored they were to receive it. After a few days though, the plant began to wilt. Its sad state caused much alarm within the house, as the family sought the reason for the change. It wasn’t from over or under watering. Then, the answer came. The plant was struggling
from a lack of light. The family began washing the windows and draperies. Soon the plant was thriving once again.
All the light coming into the parlor illuminated the sad state of their once beautiful home. Day after day the family could be seen by their neighbors beating rugs, airing linens, and returning their home to the lovely place it had been. Once all the work on the house was complete, the family looked at one another and realized their sad state. The neighbors saw a change in the family. The children were attending school regularly. The father appeared well-dressed departing and returning each day as if he was working. The yard was filled with color rather than weeds. Happy tunes were heard as neighbors passed by as the lady of the house went about her daily tasks.
When the season of gifting and holiday cheer came ‘round again, both families rejoiced equally in their good fortune as they made out their lists of gifts and recipients. The two families gathered ‘round the geranium plant in the parlor and marveled at how a simple gesture of kindness had inspired a complete rebirth.
Earlier this year, the Board of the Westport Historical Society were inspired by our own geranium plant through the generosity of Tammy and her husband, Head Coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, Andy Reid. Their gesture of repapering the entrance and stair hall of the Harris-Kearney House illuminated how the Society and the house might be reborn.
The Harris-Kearney House did not open for tours this year in order to facilitate the beautiful renovation that is underway. The Board has taken this opportunity to “rebirth” the organization. The plan is to open the reborn Society and House in the Spring of 2024.
Your financial support as members and friends during this time is appreciated more than you know. The Board is confident that you will be as thrilled and inspired as we at our rebirth.
Do watch for updates on the Society website when it is relaunched about all the exciting programs, events, volunteer opportunities, and community partnerships that are in the works.
The Board would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the overwhelming dedication and love shown to the Society and its members by Alana Smith, our immediate Past President. Her tireless work over the last 18 years on behalf of the Society is beyond measure and we are all without words to express our gratitude. We would also like to express our gratitude to and appreciation for Dan Smith, the Society’s diligent Acting Treasurer. It is largely due to his stalwart stewardship of the Society’s finances that have made this interim period possible.
Alisha Moore Cole, Interim President, Westport Historical Society
Westport Historical Society
October 1, 2023
Officers Board Directors
Alisha Moore Cole, Interim President Diane Euston
Marty Wiedenmann Jarvis, Interim Vice President Kimberly Randolph
Paul M. Cole, Interim Treasurer Ken Shoemaker
Helen VanHecke, Interim Secretary Tom Platt
Be a Part of our Transformation
>> The links in this section will be published following updates made to each webpage. <<
~ 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 kansascityWHS.email@example.com, or
CALL 816-561-1821 to leave a message, or
CALL 913-787-1707 to speak with the admn for a faster response 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.