Convention Hall Collection (KC269)
Native Sons Archives (NSA)
The original Convention Hall of Kansas City, Missouri, designed by Frederick E. Hill, was built in response to the public's demand for a permanent structure in which to hold civic events, as well as activities that would attract national attention. Constructed at 13th and Central Streets, at a cost of $225,000, Convention Hall opened on February 22, 1899, with John Philip Sousa's band as the main attraction. Other events held at Convention Hall included horse shows, home shows, rallies, Epperson's Megaphone Minstrels, and a rousing sermon by Chicago evangelist Dwight L. Moody. Despite its auspicious start, the original building had one serious flaw: it was not fireproof.
On April 4, 1900, shortly before 1:00 p.m., the structure caught fire and was completely destroyed. Luckily, the building was empty at the time, and there was no loss of life. The new Convention Hall, known as the "90 day wonder," became a symbol of Kansas City Spirit. Redesigned by Hill and rebuilt on the original site at a cost of $500,000, a fireproof Convention Hall was completed in time to host the Democratic National Convention on July 4, 1900. Events at the new Convention Hall included Sarah Bernhardt in "Camille," a dinner honoring William Howard Taft, amateur and professional sports, trade shows, the Republican National Convention in 1928, and a number of civic events.
In 1936-37, as a part of an ambitious public works project, Convention Hall was dismantled. The site became a parking lot for a new, multi-purpose Municipal Auditorium.
The collection includes the minutes from the directors, executives, stockholders, trustees, and the General Relief Committee. It also contains financial reports that includes: stocks, ledgers, subscriptions, cash records, and journals. Also, included are event records, consisting of contracts or leases of Convention Hall, logs of event, four advertising event books, and actual records of specific events. There is a small amount of correspondence, and other organizational materials and a large amount of photographs documenting events at the Hall. The scrapbooks trace the media coverage of the history and activities of Convention Hall, as well as many of Kansas City's civic events. Almost all of the information is from Kansas City area or Missouri newspapers. Of special interest are the clippings that cover World War I's effect on Kansas City (1916-1918); the influenza epidemic (1918); the controversy surrounding the Ku Klux Klan's use of Convention Hall (1922-1924); and Bishop Thomas Lillis' Golden Jubilee (1935). ca. 1899-1936
3 cubic feet; 13 oversize volumes; 11 scrapbooks (MICROFORM)
© WHMC-KC, University of Missouri
updated: Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Kansas City
(816) 235-1543 WHMCKC@umkc.edu