Kansas City, MO

Architect Louis S. Curtiss was considered 'the Frank Lloyd Wright of Kansas City' and left his mark on several buildings

CJ Coombs

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Louis Curtiss studio building.Mwkruse, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The studio building of architect Louis Curtiss in Kansas City Missouri was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The three-story building was designed by Curtiss and built in downtown Kansas City in 1909. He also died here at his drafting table on June 24, 1924 near his 58th birthday. His studio was on the second floor and he lived on the third floor.

History

Curtiss was born in Belleville, Ontario on July 1, 1865. He emigrated to Kansas City in 1887. His career in Kansas City lasted for 37 years where he designed several buildings, hotels, and residences. He was considered eccentric and had a mysterious demeanor.

While often compared to Frank Lloyd Wright, he was much less disciplined than Wright in that his designs were highly eclectic; Curtiss was not afraid to throw multiple influences together. Like Wright, many of his early buildings were fairly conventional-looking. (Source.)

Only a small amount of his buildings survive today out of over 200 buildings. A residence he designed located at 2204 Washington Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas is very interesting inside. This home built in 1920-1921 is housed in the Westheight Manor Historic District. The exterior is pictured below.

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Built for Harry G. Miller, Sr. in 1920-1921.Facebook.

The Argyle Building in Kansas City, Missouri (see below) was designed by Curtiss and built in 1906. It's a four-story structure designed in Early Commercial style. Keene & Simpson expanded the building to 10 stories. In 2005, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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The Argyle Building (2012).BrandonMcCall, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Today, this building has been transformed into the Argyle on 12th housing one and two-bedroom luxury apartments with a rooftop deck.

Curtiss also designed the Boley Clothing Co. building using the art-nouveau style. This steel frame building built in 1909 consists of six stories. In 1971, this building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The six-story building was designed by acclaimed Kansas City architect Louis Curtiss and is one of the first buildings in the world to utilize a glass curtain wall system. At the time of completion in 1909, the curtain wall was an extraordinary structural design, and was not well-received aesthetically. Originally occupied by the clothing store Charles N. Boley, the building’s facade anticipated the future and popularity of curtain walls by 40 years. (Source.)

Today, this building, after extensive renovation, houses the corporate headquarters of Andrews McMeel Universal, the parent company of Andrews McMeel Publishing, GoComics, and Universal Uclick.

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Formrly the Boley Clothing Co. building is now home to Andrews McMeel.Charvex, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Curtiss who also designed the Folly Theater was somewhat a puzzle of a man. Regardless of his mysterious background, he left a legacy that still exists today in his designed buildings which still stand. Curtiss is buried in an unmarked grave at Mount Washington Cemetery in Independence, Missouri.

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Louis Singleton Curtiss (b. July 1, 1866, d. June 24, 1924).Find a grave.

Other buildings to the design credit of Curtiss in Kansas City include the Bernard Corrigan house, the Norman Tromanhaser house, the Mineral Hall, the Standard Theater (now known as the Folly Theater), and some buildings in Quality Hill. All of these are listed on the National Register of Historical Places. He is also credited with having designed other buildings outside of Kansas City.

Thank you for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author; 30 years of legal secretarial experience; BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. Thinker, giver, and lover of life. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, truth, non-fiction, reading, history, and travel.

Kansas City, MO
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