Janssen Place marks 12-12-12 with time capsule

Hyde Park, Kansas City, Mo. -- A group of homeowners placed a unique time capsule into the recently restored Janssen Place gate with a ceremony at noon CST on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012.

To mark the completion of a $250,000 restoration of the 115-year-old limestone gate erected by rail magnate Arthur Stillwell in 1897, members of the Janssen Place Homeowners Association and surrounding Hyde Park contributed dozens of items that were entombed within one of the ornate main pillars.

"We wanted to capture a moment in time and preserve a unique example of urban design that symbolizes the spirit of Kansas City during its golden age of growth," said Stephen Mitchell, owner of 2 Janssen Place.

"Over the years, this gate has endured as a resolute yet welcoming portal to a great neighborhood," Mitchell said. "We stand at a watershed time for Janssen Place and Hyde Park. This year we had a very well-attended homes tour and a new book was published about our history. A new charter school opened nearby and events such the Thanksgiving Day Pilgrim Run grew in popularity."

Items to be placed include • a compact disc with a 1920s silent movie filmed on Janssen Place •a sealed letter to the future from 12-year-old Lynsey Lowdon (the time capsule was her dad Ross Lowdon's idea) • a copy of Kansas City's Historic Hyde Park by Pat Alley and Dona Boley • a 1997 magazine created by Bill Worley marking 100 years of Janssen Place • four issues of The Hyde Parker, the monthly Hyde Park Neighborhood Association newsletter •a 2012 Hyde Park Homes Tour booklet and tickets •sweetgum seeds and a letter from former KCPS school board member and Janssen Place resident Arthur Benson •a copy of the 1897 Kansas City Star article about the construction of the Janssen Place gate

The restoration project was funded by a combination of Janssen Place homeowner resources and a $200,000 Kansas City Public Improvement Advisory Committee grant. Stillwell founded Kansas City Southern Railways and was the developer of the Janssen Place subdivision.

The Neo-Classic revival-style gate is composed of a central focal structure flanked to the east and west by paired, columnar pillars separating pedestrian and vehicular passageways. The original material was white Arkansas limestone that was restored using Indiana limestone. The gate was designed to be complemented with bronze metal gates, but these were never built, providing public access for visitors.

The project came in under budget and surplus stone may be used for additional markers, including one about the Hyde Park neighborhood, Mitchell said. MTS Contracting of Kansas City did the restoration work while David Murphy, owner of 61 Janssen Place, was the restoration architect.

No target date has been set for the time capsule's opening. Mitchell said the artifacts will be protected from the elements until the next time restoration work is needed for the pillars, which he said is not likely for another 100 years.

"Many generations from now, people will be able to learn what life was like at one the most unique places in the American Midwest during the early 21st Century," said Mark Dillon, editor of The Hyde Parker.

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