Showhouse History

3681 Madison Ave., Kansas City, Missouri 64111

“THE SHAPE OF ARCHITECTURE is the shape of the earth as it is modified by the structures of mankind,” so said Vincent Scully, art historian from Yale University. No better evidence can be presented than the Jacobean house at 3681 Madison Avenue located in the Historic Roanoke Neighborhood. As part of the City Beautiful Movement, Roanoke was platted to maintain the “natural” style of its adjacent Roanoke Park.

The land on which the house sits was owned first by real estate companies. The first individual purchaser in 1906 was James H. Hale, but he thought better of using the land and sold it to Andrew A. Tribble, an active real estate developer, in February, 1907. The City Directory shows Andrew and Carrie Elizabeth (née Feld) Tribble living here through 1917. Mr. Tribble died in Los Angeles at the age of 55. Mrs. Tribble died in 1969, and they are both at Forest Hill Cemetery in the Feld-Tribble Mausoleum. The name of the architect for the Tribble home is unknown.

In 1918 the house was sold to William C. Helmers and his wife Elizabeth (née O’Keefe) of Leavenworth, KS. Mr. Helmers was one of the younger sons of the founder of Helmers Manufacturing Co., a high-end furniture company in Leavenworth and Kansas City. Mrs. Helmers attended the New England Conservatory of Music and the University of Kansas. She was a member of the Women’s Philharmonic Association. They had a daughter, Margaret, who spent formative years in the Showhouse.

In the 1930s and 40s, the house was occupied by a series of people such as Mrs. Rose Frances Thomas (widow of G. W. Thomas}, whose occupation was listed as “chiropodist” and Miss Inez Kranichfield.

Archie and Dessie ( Van Horn) Fox purchased the home in 1950 and lived in the house until their deaths. Archie was a street inspector for the K. C. Department of Public Works. He was a member of the Kansas City Athletic Club (KCAC) and served as the Athletic Director from 1920 to 1929. While at KCAC, Archie coached several well-known champions including 5-time Olympic Medalist in swimming Johnny Weissmuller also known for his film career as Tarzan and Jungle Jim. At the time they purchased the house, Archie was 70 and Dessie was 60. Like many of the houses in the neighborhood, the home had been divided into multiple units. Archie and Dessie lived on the first floor and basement and rented the second and third floors.

By 1973 it fell to Dr .John Goheen and his wife Ellen to bring the house back to single-family occupancy. Dr. Goheen was a pulmonologist at KU Medical Center, and Ellen was an art historian at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. They went at the project slow and steady and finally by 1980 were ready to do a kitchen remodeling which existed until the present owner did a makeover in 2009. In his zeal to create an authentic arts and crafts powder room on the first floor, young architect Roger Kraft forgot to make a hole for the toilet paper dispenser so they ended up using a stand-alone. John remembers the “doggie alarm system.” The dog at the corner would start barking and it cascaded down the block.

In 1986 architect Ronald Turner and his wife Lynn bought the house and also did major projects such as adding custom Marvin windows (a favorite of architects and contractors), restoring the outside brick walls, and adding pavers to the driveway. Lynn was an accomplished decorator in her own right, but she favored a muted palette and more modern decoration than the arts and crafts favored by the builder. The Turners enclosed the rectangular west porch to use as a sunroom. After a successful career with Ellerbe Becket in the 1980s, Ron joined Gensler and moved to California where he now lives. Daughter Meredith now lives in Las Vegas but remembers well the wonderful 4th of July parties that were held on Madison Avenue.

Employee benefits lawyer Thomas Brous and his wife Patty owned the home from 1996 until Patty’s death in 1999. They enjoyed collecting arts and crafts furniture and played up the original interior composed of quarter-sawn oak and oak floors throughout. There are nine octagonal pillars on the first floor and a stunning sideboard in the dining room. The Brous family also brought out of storage a lovely copper and stained glass chandelier which continues to be a focal point of the dining room. After Patty’s death Tom continued to live in the house and then with the help of a family friend he was introduced to Mary Lou Kroh and they married in 2001. They enjoyed the house until 2004 when it was sold to the present owners.

Dr. Thomas Marchioro, a physicist and retired technology executive, and his wife Durene have graciously invited us to share their home for the 53rd Symphony Designers’ Showhouse. They have been grand conservators of the house and its history. In 2009 they remodeled the kitchen using materials consistent with the house such as quarter-sawn oak cabinets and soapstone countertops. We thank them for this introduction to the fascinating people who have lived at 3681 Madison Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri.