Originally constructed as a residence by lumber magnate R.A. Long in 1910, Corinthian Hall was donated to the Kansas City Museum Association in 1939 by Long’s two daughters. In 1948, the building was deeded to the City of Kansas City after museum funds were determined to be insufficient in maintaining the estate. Decades later, in 1996 IAA was commissioned to conduct a restoration study and provide a preliminary cost estimate for restoration of the various estate buildings, including the main house, carriage house and stables, caretaker’s house, carpenter’s workshop, conservatory, pergola and limestone and wrought iron fence surrounding the three-acre estate. Our team then developed a phased master plan for the historic restoration and adaptive renovation of Corinthian Hall into a mixed-use facility, incorporating elements of a traditional historic house-museum with modern elements.
Prior to developing restoration documents, tests were conducted on the masonry to determine the most effective cleaning methods. Options ranged from de-ionized water to industrial masonry cleaners, and even standard household detergents. Moving forward, all displaced veneer, cornice, chimney and balustrade stones were reset. Cracked, spalled, and damaged stones were patched using either an epoxy injection or cutting and patching them with a non-shrinking, porous historic patching mortar. Prior to a full tuck-pointing of the entire main house, samples of the original mortar were sent to a lab for analysis to aid in selecting a specially-formulated historic one.
All of the original French-style terra cotta tiles were removed from the sloped roofs and salvaged for re-installation. Owing to the fragility of the original roof deck and custom features, original wood elements were preserved after inspection for signs of deterioration, and a new waterproof underlayment was installed along with a new built-in copper gutter liner. All original roof tiles were then reinstalled over new battens.
Corinthian Hall’s beautifully elaborate cast bronze porté cochére canopy over the west porch was removed from its original mountings and transported to a specialty metal fabrication and restoration shop for full cleaning and restoration. Work included the re-creation of the deteriorated, original structural support system from stainless steel, re-casting and re-patination of several missing elements and re-wiring of the original electrical service. Using historic photographs for reference, fragments of the original glass were used to recreate the canopy glazing from a UV-stable, non-yellowing resin material, which replicates the appearance of the original glass while providing superior strength against breakage.
Later preservation and renovation phases have included window and door replacements throughout the building and the installation of a new elevator and HVAC system. Currently, IAA is working closely with Museum and Parks and Rec staff to design the interior renovation of several estate buildings. The result with be a forward-thinking museum showcasing local and regional history and culture.
AIA Kansas City Allied Arts & Craftsmanship Award Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation Honor Award