What Is That?

Christina Lieffring / KCUR

You’re driving uphill along winding roads in Wyandotte County, Kan.

You turn the corner and see a high chain-link fence surrounding a foreboding house out of a ghost story: it’s a three-story, red-brick, Victorian home with a high tower at the top and carved lions framing the doorway. That's Sauer Castle.

As a child, Patricia Schurkamp of the Wyandotte County Museum would regularly go up the hill to see the house. As an adult, she finally got to see the inside.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

Right in the center of downtown Kansas City, Kan., between the public library and government buildings just off Minnesota Avenue, is a little two-acre cemetery.

The sign reads "Huron Indian Cemetery," but it’s also known as the Wyandot National Burying Ground. Over the years this place has been a gathering spot and a sacred place for members of the Wyandot Nation, but it has also been the site of controversy, confusion and a curse.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

Driving around Kansas City’s Northland on Vivion Road, it’s kind of hard to miss Penguin Park. It has a way of sticking out – there’s a giant penguin standing in the center of it. But why is the penguin there? And where did it come from? 

Esther Honig

If you’ve ever driven around the historic 18th & Vine neighborhood in downtown Kansas City, Mo., you might have noticed what looks like a castle. It appears as though it housed Missouri royalty, but in fact this four-story structure, chiseled out of yellow limestone, was originally designed as the city jail.

Built in 1897 with the title of “workhouse castle,” it held mostly petty offenders, vagrants and debtors. As a part of their sentence these inmates were required to work. Female prisoners sewed prison uniforms and the men labored for the city’s Public Works Department.

The Story Behind Kansas City's House Of Cards

Jul 9, 2014
Cara McClain / KCUR

Have you ever driven through the Historic Northeast neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., and seen a building with playing cards instead of windows? 

That's the house of cards, an abandoned apartment building at 7th and Indiana streets, that community members used to create public art. After a couple of years of dormancy, there's now some renewed interest to continue the effort.

Here's the story of how that project began: 

A couple years back, the Historic Northeast neighborhood in Kansas City, Mo., had a problem.

Susan B. Wilson / KCUR

Do you ever see something that catches your eye while you're walking or driving around town? Something that makes you turn you head in wonder as you pass by? 

I asked that question every time I drove past a sprawling, ornately decorated property in South Kansas City’s Red Bridge neighborhood. Finally, I stopped and met the owner who takes home and garden to a whole new level.

Susan B. Wilson / KCUR

I remember the day, around six years ago, when I saw builders constructing something at 109th and Raytown Road. The finished product was a cream colored cylinder topped with a pointed red clay tile roof.  I asked myself, is this a land-locked lighthouse? How about a missile silo in disguise?

Kansas History On The Highway

Feb 1, 2012
Kayla Regan / KCUR

From K-7 S, it really doesn’t look like much—just four poles and some kind of stone.

Photo by Alex Smith/KCUR.

KANSAS CITY, MO – The City Hall, police station, and community building of Prairie Village, KS will soon have their temperatures regulated by a geothermal heating system venturing more than four hundred feet underground.

This low maintenance alternative energy system taps into the constant temperatures just below the earth's surface to cool a building in the summer and heat it in winter.

It is funded in part by a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Social worker Jeannette Ford at The Cremation Society in Prairie Village says people have many ways of preserving remains.

Prairie Village, Kansas – It's a small glass front office on Roe Avenue with a simple sign above the entrance - The Cremation Society.

The name always called to mind other groups I knew little about but invested with some mystery - The Royal Order of Hibernians or The Society of Creative Anachronism.

Kansas City, MO – KC Currents is bringing you the stories behind some different Kansas City landmarks, curiosities and architectural anomalies in the new series "What IS That?"

In this installment, KCUR's Susan B. Wilson asks about the statues of three mariachi players on the corner of 17th and Summit, on Kansas City's Westside.

Hear other stories and suggest ideas for the What is That? series on the KC Currents page.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Prairie Village, Kan. – Ever pass something that catches your eye while you're driving around or walking? Something that makes you turn you head in wonder as you pass by? It might an architectural anomaly, an unusual object, artwork, or a storefront?

KC Currents will be exploring these curiosities in a new occasional series we're calling "What IS That?" KCUR's Laura Ziegler has this first installment about a sacred space in the heart of Prairie Village, Kan. It's a shrine to the only horse bred in Kansas to win the Kentucky Derby.