The E. F. Swinney School educated Kansas City students from 1914 until 1997. The location just blocks west of the Country Club Plaza drew a lot of interest when the property became available for redevelopment, but a large circulatory element added to the front of the building in 1987 proved to be a stumbling block.
Even though the original building was hardly altered, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) would not evaluate its National Register eligibility until the addition was removed. Rosin Preservation worked closely with Swinney Development Partners to mitigate the risk of moving forward by researching the design of the addition and physically exploring how it had altered the original façade. After determining with a high degree of certainty that the majority of the historic exterior brick walls, terra cotta ornament and window openings were intact, Swinney Development Partners demolished the addition. Rosin Preservation’s assessment proved correct. SHPO determined the building National Register eligible, and redevelopment of the vacant property began.
With strong support from the city and the neighborhood, Swinney Development Partners transformed the old school into 33 luxury apartments plus shared amenity spaces and constructed a new wing to house an additional 38 apartments. Rosin Preservation worked closely with the developers, Rosemann & Associates architects, and Straub Construction to make sure that the rehabilitation incorporated key historic elements and that the new construction respected the massing, materials, and design of the historic building. In addition to restoring the southwest entrance, the new apartments highlight the old chalkboards and wood trim from the classrooms. The team paid extra attention to adapting three signature spaces: part of the gymnasium became a lofted apartment that features the striped wood floor, glazed brick walls and extra tall ceilings; the auditorium was repurposed as a community gathering space, preserving the original stage and proscenium trim; and the open-air classroom on the roof was converted into two units, each retaining the paired columns and fenestration pattern installed when the space was first enclosed in 1927.
Renamed West Hill, the apartments opened to great acclaim in May 2016, bringing new vitality to the West Plaza neighborhood.
1106 W 47th Street
Kansas City, MO
National Register, Tax Credit