A Chance to Bid on History

As seen in the Kansas City Star

Before Will Kellogg invented Corn Flakes or the world had ever heard of “Pepsi-Cola,” a house was envisioned for the quiet corner of Mississippi and Jewell streets in Liberty, Missouri. As construction of the home began, the United States was engaged in the Spanish American War and preparing to annex Hawaii. As the first coat of paint dried, patents were being issued for celluloid film and something called a “roller coaster.” The sparkling new wood floors anticipated the home’s first visitors the same year radium was discovered and an automobile set a new speed record of 39 miles per hour. It was 1898.

The home at 456 E. Mississippi was built by Dr. Charles L. Smith, Instructor of History and Political Science at William Jewell College. The college campus is adjacent to this house with the stately president’s home on a hill just across the street. (Interestingly, the year after the home was built, William Jewell hosted the first intercollegiate basketball game in the state of Missouri against the University of Kansas, coached by James Naismith, the inventor of basketball.)

According to Jonna Wensel, Community Development Manager for the City of Liberty, “The house is an unusual example of a Queen Anne because of the low-pitched roof.” She notes, however, that “details such as the Palladian window, bay window with smaller rectangular windows over the primary windows, and wrap-around porch with simple columns all suggest the Free Classic style.”

Like many historic properties, this home has seen a variety of changes in ownership, use and condition in the ensuing 115 years. After a series of private owners, William Jewell acquired the property and for more than 50 years of its history it was known as “Cardinal House” and was home to faculty offices, honors housing and Greek student housing. According to Wensel, in 1988 the “Jewell Historic District” was formed and included this neighborhood.

After sitting vacant for three years and with demolition having been discussed, the home’s fortunes took a dramatic turn for the better when it caught the eye of local restoration artisan John Carr and his business partner, Harold Phillips. They purchased the home in 2005 and began the careful, tedious, and not-inexpensive job of returning it to its former stature. With the perfect blend of a craftsman’s touch and a builder’s eye, they removed non-original features, taking the home back to the studs and rebuilding it true to its origins, but loaded with all the conveniences of a new home.

Plumbing, wiring, windows and the roof were all replaced. Woodwork and floors throughout the home were stripped to reveal a gorgeous patina. Leaded glass was rejuvenated. A new porch, deck and patio were built. The all-important kitchen and bathrooms were re-envisioned for modern use with high end appliances and fixtures. Zoned heating and cooling were added.

During the process, William Jewell graduates David and Sarah Fravel were moving back to the Liberty area and hoping to find a comfortable family home in the historic part of the city. According to Sarah, it was a perfect match and they engaged in the process of making the house a home, including the addition of extensive professional landscaping with irrigation and a significant investment in a much-needed two-car garage with a large second story office. The result is an upscale, modern, 4,000 square foot, four bedroom home loaded with features and exuding historic charm.

On March 29th, the next phase of the home’s history begins. Having now moved out of state, the Fravels are eager for the home’s good fortune to continue with new owners. To expedite the process, they chose Cates Auction & Realty Co., Inc. to market and sell their home via public auction.

“We loved living in this home because it had all the benefits of a new house but with the character of an older home plus the charm of a historic neighborhood,” says Sarah. She adds, “We are excited about the auction because we know a new chapter is right around the corner!”

Vicki Vance is the executive director of Historic Downtown Liberty, Inc. and notes that the home is within easy walking distance of the square. “How wonderful to be so close to all the shopping, dining and entertainment options we have on the square,” she says. She adds with a characteristic twinkle, “And what a treat to wake up in the morning and walk over to our terrific farmer’s market!” Naturally, she anticipates strong interest in the home.

The auction will take place at the home. Interested buyers are invited to attend open house events on March 17 and 24 from 2:00 to 4:00. More information on the property’s history, renovation details, auction terms and a full photo gallery can be found at www.CatesAuction.com, along with helpful links.

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I chose Cates because of their reputation and the encouragement of friends who have used them in the past. The Cates staff can only be described as professional, knowledgeable and service oriented. Jeff and his staff took care of everything. They covered all bases and took into consideration every …
Phil McCauley
We are Kansas City's oldest and most experienced real estate auction company specializing in accelerated real estate sales in Missouri and Kansas, including Overland Park, Lenexa, Shawnee, Leawood, Kansas City, Lee's Summit, Olathe, Blue Springs, Independence, Liberty, Kearney, Parkville, Smithville, Gladstone, Clay County, Platte County, Jackson County, Johnson County, Wyandotte County, Leavenworth County, Cass County, Lake of the Ozarks, Lake Ozark, Sunrise Beach, Osage Beach, Four Seasons, Shawnee Bend, Miller County, Camden County, and around the Midwest. Kansas City auctioneers with regional expertise!