by Mark Vasto
Does Platte Citys downtown area qualify
as a historic district? The verdict at
least initially is in.
Fresh off a trip to Jefferson City to visit with
officials from the Missouri Department of Natural
Resources (MDNR) historic preservation office,
Shirley Kimsey, Platte City historian and acknowledged
head of the effort to pursue the designation,
said her worst fears about the project were realized.
As I thought, were trying to take
too much in, Kimsey told The Landmark. The
metal is going to have to come off these (downtown)
buildings before were even considered.
Still, Kimsey said, it is a step in the right
direction for the city and its most recent attempt
to pursue a historic designation for the city.
The last attempt by city stakeholders took place
in 1979 but failed to achieve recognition for
the downtown district. Now, bolstered by the blessing
of the city government, Kimsey and a new committee
are trying their hand again.
The three member historical preservation
committee, appointed by the Platte City
Board of Aldermen at its May 27 meeting, is comprised
of Alderman George McClintock, director of the
Platte City Area Development Association and local
retailer Mary Ann Brooks, and Shirley Kimsey.
The independent committee had the support of the
aldermen to present a petition on behalf of the
city to put the downtown district on the National
According to the resolution, the aldermen expressed
support for a district that begins at the Platte
City Cemetery at the north, the Platte River on
the west, to Marshall Road on the west and continuing
south to Academy Street.
In addition to the metal slip covers
adorning roughly four buildings on Main Street
across from the Platte County Courthouse, another
apparent deal breaker for the city was the blend
of new and old houses sprinkled throughout the
city. With a lack of architecturally significant
concentration throughout many of the citys
neighborhoods, naming one district has seemed
to become impractical.
The houses we will (place on the register)
individually, Kimsey said. We have
so many new houses that they cant be in
Tiffany Patterson, National Historic Register
coordinator for the MDNR, said that although the
state didnt think Platte City was a good
candidate at the moment, the city was on the right
track to pursuing some other sort of historic
"I think theres a lot in Platte City
that is eligible for the historic register,
Patterson said. I just dont know if
there is a strong historic commercial district
Patterson said that the MDNR gave the Platte
City committee feedback on what the city needed
to do before the state would support the citys
district naming efforts.
Thats the problem with coming to talk
to us, Patterson joked. We assign
work to do.
Patterson said she asked the committee to prepare
multiple property documentation and submissions.
She said she encouraged cities like Platte City
who dont have resources together in one
area to pursue getting on the register one-by-one.
The problem in Platte City is there will
be a really fabulous house from 1870 and on either
side of it there would be a modern one,
Patterson explained. So you cant create
Patterson said the documentation the committee
said it would prepare would be a big step toward
getting on the register.
Its a big piece of the final goal
and its a national register document,
Patterson said of the multiple property documentation.
It goes to the National Registry offices
and is approved and filed. And what it also does
is cut down the work for future property owners.
It facilitates the whole process by outlining
what is eligible in the community.
Patterson said that the city always had the option
of pursuing a municipally-designated historic
district, an idea that Kimsey and Brooks both
said they would consider discussing with city
officials. In the meantime, Kimsey hinted that
her next move would be to renew what she described
as a long-term battle against the metal facades
covering the downtown buildings architecture.
They tried to put that (metal) on my building,
Kimsey said, recalling a downtown revitalization
effort of the late 1960s. I said, no,
youre not! That damn stuff is not coming
on my building.
Kimsey lamented the lost architecture that is
hidden underneath the pastel-colored slipcovers.
She claimed that in order to fit the metal onto
the building, callous contractors chipped off
the stone carvings that adorned the former building
used by the Knights of Pythias, a mens fraternity.
She claimed that the former Platte City opera
houses façade lays hidden beneath
a slipcover as well.
Here was all this architecture being covered
up here, while cities like Harrisonville and Meadville
were restoring theirs.
Patterson said that preparing the paperwork now
may help prevent work like that from ever happening
Now (the city) is setting up a plan where
they can say, were planning on doing
these projects and we should avoid these areas
because theyre historic, Patterson
pointed out. She added that even though many cities
find that a locally designated historic district
isnt the right fit for a community, she
said that it might be a good one for Platte City.
Hopefully, with a small investment theres
going to be some sharp buildings there,
Patterson said. Theres enough to go