Showhouse History

54th Symphony Designers’ Showhouse, 1100 Valentine Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64111

The Rustic Tudor Revival house at 1100 Valentine Road is set on a curve of the road which was a part of the Kansas City Inter-State Fair and later became a fashionable residential neighborhood. It is built of rock faced coursed stone and dates from about 1900 from the vernacular style of George Mathews. The house is now on the Kansas City Register of Historic Places as part of the Roanoke Historic District.

The first owners were Albert E. Holmes and his wife May. He was a partner with his father in developing the Roanoke Investment Company which sold properties to those moving south out of the Quality Hill area. Having their choice of the Roanoke lots, they chose the graceful curve of Valentine Road on a bluff overlooking Roanoke Road. They later donated the land that became Roanoke Park. Mr. Holmes also served as city treasurer of Kansas City, Missouri from 1904 to serve two terms.

The second owners were Arthur W. Calkins and his wife Ina who lived there from about 1906 into the 1920s. Mr. Calkins was a millionaire pump manufacturer who started out as a traveling pump salesman who worked in northern Missouri. He visited Kansas City regularly and in 1880 organized the Kansas City Pump Company. When his widow, Ina Calkins died in 1930, her will established a charitable trust called the Ina Calkins Board managed by Bank of America and administered by an independent board of ten persons “of high character interested in their fellow man.”

From 1936-39 the home was rented by artist Thomas Hart Benton and his wife Rita after he left New York to teach at the Kansas City Art Institute. He also accepted a commission to paint a mural called “A Social History of the State of Missouri” in the House Lounge of the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri. He entertained such famous artists as Jackson Pollock (his student), Grant Wood, and John Steuart Curry. The Bentons bought the home at 3616 Belleview Avenue which is preserved as the Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio Historic Site.

The next owners were Franklin C. Willhite and his wife Doris. Mr. Willhite was Department Manager of KC Fire and Marine Insurance. Doris Willhite attended schools in Kansas City where she excelled and then taught there for 30 years. She also loved her several homes inside and out and furnished them with antiques. One of her daughters remembers an old ice house where she used to play.

During the 1980s and 1990s the Ekillis (Skip) and Regina Chandler family lived in the house. Skip purchased Security Safe and Alarm on Troost Avenue and also kept up with extensive gardening including vegetables which he generously shared. One of the Chandler children remembers using the small fish ponds as swimming pools for the younger neighborhood kids during the summer holidays.

Scott and Rhonda Burnett have lived in the house for 30 years and greatly enjoyed the Roanoke neighborhood which Scott represented as a Jackson County legislator for 20 years.

The current owners who graciously share their home are Brian Cahill, retired, and Mindy Goodman, a textile artist.