They Built Kansas City Series Begins with Nelle Elizabeth Peters

For Immediate Release:
June 4, 2009
Contact: Steven Woolfolk
They Built Kansas City Series Begins with Nelle Elizabeth Peters

Three women architects who helped shape Kansas City neighborhoods and beyond are the subject of the second season of They Built Kansas City, a series examining the work of architects responsible for some of the city’s most recognizable structures.


All programs in the series begin at 2 p.m. in the Truman Forum at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St. Admission is free.


Programs in the series include:


Nelle Elizabeth Peters.

On Sunday, June 7, Nancy Powell discusses the work of Nelle Elizabeth Peters.


Peters completed nearly 1,000 buildings during her 60-year career. In 1913 she formed a partnership with the Philips Building Company owned by Charles E. Philips. During this period she designed dozens of apartments for Philips, including the “literary group” – the Robert Louis Stevenson, Eugene Field, Mark Twain, Washington Irving, Thomas Carlyle, James Russell Lowell, and Robert Browning buildings, all located on the Country Club Plaza.


In 1924, Peters designed the Ambassador Hotel, which was the largest hotel in Kansas City at that time. Peters died in 1974 at the age of 90.


Mary Rockwell Hook.

On Sunday, June 14, Tom Cooke discusses the work of Mary Rockwell Hook.


A pioneer for women in architecture, Hook’s best known designs in Kansas City are residences located in Sunset Hills near Loose Park. One of her designs was the first in Kansas City to include a swimming pool, while another was the first to have an attached garage.


Although the American Institute of Architects had denied Hook admission because of her sex, the professional association presented her with a plaque for distinguished service on her 100th birthday in 1977. She died one year later.


Mary Colter.

On Sunday, June 28, Susan Richards Johnson discusses the work of Mary Colter.


Best known for her designs in the southwest United States, Colter made her mark in Kansas City through her association with the Fred Harvey Company. Beginning in 1910, Colter obtained a permanent position with the company as an architect and designer based in the Kansas City office. She frequently traveled to various sites in the Southwest.


Fred Harvey had Colter on staff to produce commercial architecture in strategic locations based on some concern for authenticity, floor plans calculated for good user experience and commercial function, as well as a playful sense of dramatic theme inside and out. She was best known in Kansas City as the designer of all of the Fred Harvey Restaurants, including the original one in Union Station. Colter died in 1958.

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