29 December, 2018. Peeking over the walls of some rather more industrial looking structures in Kansas City’s Crossroads Arts District is the spired belfry of the restored Webster House. Originally designated Webster School, the building is an example of Richardson Romanesque architecture, a 19th Century American style that was itself a revival of thousand-year old Roman designs.
When you look closely, Kansas City is filled with architectural surprises. My personal knowledge of architectural styles has always been very limited, but my personal tastes are broad. While fairly well defined, those tastes continue to evolve as I discover – or rediscover – interesting structures in and around my home town. Richardson Romanesque is one description with which I was previously unfamiliar, but which holds some interest for me. (Studying examples of the style, an eventual move toward Beaux-arts decoration kind of helps makes sense of the stylistic evolutions to me.)
The internet is a rich repository of information and makes it easier to learn about and distinguish between the dizzying variety of design styles, many of which are a sort of “collage” of things that came before. One thing that intrigues me is the patchwork quilt of human-made stuff that results over time, whether that’s a bird’s eye view of roads and fields, or the hodgepodge mixture of building additions that take place over time. The Crossroads Arts District is a good example of structural collage, buildings of various purposes and eras that are nestled one next to the other in a sort of “roll of the dice” city plan.