'It's a Maher': Ross Freese Remembers a Prairie School-Style Classic, Kicking Off Library's 2014 Architecture Series

All Kansas City Public Library locations will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 26, and will remain closed all day Thursday, November 27, for Thanksgiving.

For Immediate Release:
June 11, 2014
Contact: Courtney Lewis
816.701.3669
'It's a Maher': Ross Freese Remembers a Prairie School-Style Classic, Kicking Off Library's 2014 Architecture Series

Chicago architect George Washington Maher was a giant of the Prairie School movement that produced buildings still treasured today by communities fortunate enough to have them.

How, then, did Kansas City forget that he designed a significant home - possibly the city's first Prairie School structure - at the turn of the last century for the prominent Velie family in the then-fashionable Warwick neighborhood?

Kicking off the Library's 2014 Kansas City Architecture Series, architecture enthusiast Ross Freese looks back at this landmark building, the man who designed it, and the family who occupied it in The Velies Built a Maher on Sunday, June 22, 2014, at 2 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.

Freese's yearlong exploration of the history of the Velie mansion was spurred by a postcard of the Warwick neighborhood that he spotted on eBay. A system support analyst for the UMKC Central Ticket Office, he recognized the area but not the beautiful house pictured in it.

His research pointed him to Maher, who with Frank Lloyd Wright, E. Fay Jones, and others pioneered a Midwestern style of architecture characterized by open spaces, horizontal lines, and indigenous materials.

Maher designed the Kansas City home for the family of Stephen Henry Velie, Jr., a grandson of farm equipment magnate John Deere who ran the local dealership for Velie automobiles produced in Moline, Illinois, between 1908 and 1928. Velie was also a championship polo player who kept a horse farm in Blue Springs.

The Velies moved into the house in 1905, and left in 1922. The property went through two other owners before being razed in the early 1950s to make way for All Souls Unitarian Church, which still occupies the lot.

Admission to the event is free. RSVP at kclibrary.orgor call 816.701.3407.

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