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The Kansas City Athenaeum, 900 East Linwood Boulevard

Athenaeum Club House

The following information is reprinted with the permission of The Kansas City Athenaeum and the General Federation of Women's Clubs and the Missouri Federation of Women's Clubs.

In May 1894 the Kansas City Athenaeum was born. It was the dream of Mrs. Laura Everingham Scammon to bring women together to study such subjects as art, music, literature, science, and economics on a university level.

Following previous planning of nine women, the first meeting was held at the Y.M.C.A. auditorium with seventy women in attendance. Over one hundred women met the following week. Numerous churches and buildings were used those first years of the club's formation.

Mrs. E. R. Weeks was elected the first president of the Athenaeum. Many of Kansas City's most prominent women followed in her footsteps. (See Carolyn Farwell Fuller.) Mrs. Weeks was noted in Who's Who In America at that time for founding the Parent Teacher Association in Kansas City.

At the turn of the century, Athenaeum members were militant in their drive for Women's Suffrage. They were concerned women who wanted to be heard in their community and nation. Mrs. Henry N. Ess was a prominent civic leader who started many community programs and was a leader in the local Prohibition movement. She involved many members in the movement and organized pageants at the Athenaeum clubhouse dealing with the history of Prohibition.

The 1907 one hundred Athenaeum members were having a meeting in a building at 9th and Locust when a fire occurred. All members escaped unharmed. With its growing membership, it was decided in 1909 to build an Athenaeum club house. After much debate, ground was purchased at Linwood and Campbell Streets, and construction began in 1913. The clubhouse building proudly stands today.

The opening of the new clubhouse was held on April 12, 1914. Members from the different departments of the club studied the writings of Charles Dickens. A pageant was presented with 200 members dressed in Dickens´ costumes, and it was billed as a great literary festival. Through the years many musical groups from the community have used the building's large auditorium for plays, musicals, and recitals.

Athenaeum Club House

The Kansas City Athenaeum eventually grew to 800 women in membership. As time changed in the 1920's and 1930's, so did women´s attitudes. Many of these women either started or worked for the civic and charitable good of the city. At the pleading of Rev. T. M. Birkhead in the 1920's, the Kansas City Athenaeum was instrumental in forming a Citizens Association which is still in existence today. The women were called upon to fight the political corruption of that era.

Civic welfare was on the minds of the women of the 1930's. Many Athenaeum members attended and worked in prison reform, helped clothe the needy and feed the poor. A choral group was formed to entertain patients at the county home. A sewing committee repaired garments for school children. Two Athenaeum members organized and contributed hundreds of dollars for equipment for the crippled children at Mercy Hospital.

During both World Wars, Athenaeum members were involved in national causes to help the homeless in Europe and bring peace to the world. After the death of Theodore Roosevelt, the club had a memorial to his passing. It was noted by a letter of gratitude from Mrs. Roosevelt to the members of the Athenaeum. The Kansas City Athenaeum, also, devoted long hours to the Red Cross making bandages for the wounded in WW2. The Athenaeum clubhouse held regular socials for servicemen during the war, and its members acted as hostesses.

Because many Kansas City mothers were working at the clubhouse on civic projects or attending meeting, the 1940's brought into existant the first nursery providing child care. Many children have enjoyed coming with their mothers to the Athenaeum.

The list of civic and charitable organizations started by the Athenaeum is lengthy and a few are still in existence today. Truman Hospital was a fund started by the Athenaeum to help the needy with eye glasses and artificial limbs. This program still exists. Athenaeum members planted the Rose Garden in Loose Park. The Golden Age Club was started by Athenaeum members in the 1950's which is an offshoot of the current Shepherd's Center.

In 1980 the Athenaeum clubhouse was listed on the National Historic Register. Today its members are helping to maintain the beauty of the building, working for many philanthropies in the community, and upholding the values of women today.

The main level of the Athenaeum boasts a beautiful 74' x 50' Ballroom/Auditorium with a 9' deep stage with gorgeous burgundy velvet curtains. There is also a west parlor and east parlor with stairs leading up to a grand 46' x 22' Balcony / Music Room overlooking the Ballroom and Stage. The lower level offers a quaint Tea Room of 23' x 23' along with a rather large Dining Room of 74' x 30'. There is also a Dishwashing Room available but the Kitchen is off-limits to renters and caterers as this space is used for the caterer " Food Glorious Food"

You can rent the entire building for a minimal cost or just parts of the building, for what ever suits your occasion. The Ballroom is not air-conditioned so it is recommended to rent the area from October through May. Security is required for all rentals and is arranged by the Athenaeum. Rates depend upon number of hours and event, number of guests attending event, type and time of event. Tables are available (60" diameter) and their is a cleanup fee.

Prices are based on an 8 hour maximum usage (including setup and cleanup.) Additional hours may be available at an hourly rate.