What IS That?

What Is That?
10:09 am
Thu July 24, 2014

What Is That? Kansas City's Vine Street Castle

Workhouse Castle located on 18th and Vine St.
Credit 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.

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Beyond Our Borders
12:52 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

The Story Behind Kansas City's House Of Cards

As a part of a community effort to eliminate neighborhood eyesores, artists transformed this abandoned apartment building into a house of cards in 2012.
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.

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KC Currents
9:57 am
Thu October 3, 2013

The Story Behind The 'Enchanted' House In Red Bridge

Pamela Bowen tries to build comfortable houses for each of her animals.
Credit 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.

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What IS That?
6:05 am
Sun February 12, 2012

Just A Couple Of Cupolas

This cupola once graced the top of Longview Farms' Show Horse Arena.
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?

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What IS That?
11:38 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

Kansas History On The Highway

Asa Smith's grave sits on the shoulder of K7 South.
Kayla Regan KCUR

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

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What IS That?
2:15 pm
Mon September 19, 2011

What Is that?: Going Geothermal

The city buildings of Prairie Village, KS will soon be heated by a massive geothermal system that lies just below this deceivingly minor looking construction project.
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.

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What IS That?
10:14 am
Tue July 12, 2011

What IS that? A Visit to the Cremation Society

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.

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What IS That?
10:15 am
Mon June 27, 2011

What IS that?: Statues on Summit

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.

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KC Currents
10:17 am
Mon May 16, 2011

What IS that? Kentucky Derby Shrine

1938 Kentucky Derby winner Lawrin and sire Insco gravestones on grounds of old Woolford Farm in Prairie Village, Kan.
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.

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