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CJ Coombs

The historic 'New York Life Building' built in 1890 has been The Catholic Center since 2010

New York Life Insurance Building, Kansas City, Missouri (2008).Photo by Charvex, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The New York Life Building is a high-rise standing 12 stories tall in the tower with 10-story wings in the Library District of downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The building is located at 20 West Ninth Street. The construction completion of this building was in 1890.

It is an H plan structure possessing two ten-story arms linked together by a twelve-story square tower. (Source.)

The New York Life Building is made of brick and brownstone. This was the first building in Kansas City to have elevators. The building was commissioned by the New York Life Insurance Company. This building is included with other historic buildings like the Kansas City Club and the Central Library.

In 1970, this building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Interior of the New York Life Building ca. 1890.Public domain, Library of Congress.

Frederick Elmer Hill

In 1885, architect Frederick Elmer Hill of the New York City firm of McKim, Mead & White, designed the building. Hill was an 1882 graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1885, he came to Kansas City to supervise the construction initially. Hill stayed until 1901.

Hill designed other buildings from 1893 to 1895. He helped with the design and construction of what's known as Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral today close to Quality Hill. He also designed Convention Hall which was torn down in 1936 when a parking lot was built for the Municipal Auditorium.

The building

The architectural style is Italianate Renaissance Revival. The exterior is brick and brownstone. In front of the building is a bald eagle statue tending to its own eaglets in a nest. The sculptor was Louis St. Gaudens. The piece contains more than two tons of cast bronze. Amazing.
New York Life Insurance Building, Kansas City, Missouri (view from the northwest).Photo by Charvex, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1988, the building was vacant. A $35 million restoration project began in 1996 to add modern features. In 2010, the building was sold for $11.7 million to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph. The diocese's administrative offices are now in this building which was renamed The Catholic Center.
Eagle sculpture by Louis St. Gaudens on New York Life Building, Kansas City, Missouri.Charvex, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
When completed at the cost of $1,000,000.00, it was the largest and tallest office building in Kansas City. (Source.)

This building is another piece of history that's part of the architectural history of Kansas City. A highlight of this building is the bronze sculpture of the eagle.

Thanks for reading!

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