Across Missouri, the breadth of sophisticated architecture might surprise those who aren’t familiar with the state. From a glorious train station to quaint German towns and renowned artists such as Thomas Hart Benton, the buildings of the Show-Me State display their proud heritage.
Kansas City’s Union Station is an instantly recognizable icon, but the stories of reconnecting, discovery and celebration make this more than just an architecturally stunning place. Jefferson City’s leaders made sure that art and architecture were incorporated into the fabric of political life at the State Capitol and Supreme Court building.
World War II and Sir Winston Churchill’s leadership and life are remembered in Fulton at the National Churchill Museum and Christopher Wren-designed church. Picturesque Hermann lies at the heart of wine country where Bavarian heritage is preserved through architecture, food and, of course, wineries. And in St. Louis, the lavish Fox Theatre, designed by one of the most distinguished movie palace architects of the 1920s, offers a stellar Broadway lineup each season.
For more than 100 years, Union Station has been Kansas City’s epicenter for celebrating events, fostering discovery and reconnecting with loved ones. Built in 1914 for approximately $6 million, it was the third-largest railroad station in the country after New York City’s Grand Central Station and Philadelphia’s Penn Station, which was later demolished. Thousands of personal stories are associated with this grand dame.
“It’s not unusual to find an elderly couple standing in the Grand Hall taking it all in and reminiscing about being reunited here after World War II,” said chief marketing officer Michael Tritt. “Others say ‘We got engaged under the clock’ or ‘This is where I met my grandparents when they came by train to visit.’”
Today, Union Station remains the country’s second-largest operating station. The Grand Hall’s distinctive double-faced clock still hangs in the arched entrance to the waiting room. Sometimes called the Big Ben of the Plains, it weighs in at 1,100 pounds and measures six and a half feet in diameter. Three massive chandeliers weigh approximately 4,000 pounds apiece and hang from the hall’s 95-foot-high ceilings. Besides the magnificent architecture, visitors come for the Extreme Screen movie theater, the planetarium, Science City and the KC Rail Experience, City Stage and numerous free exhibits and seasonal celebrations.
Before or after a tour, groups will want to dine at Harvey’s, an in-the-round restaurant inside the elegant Grand Hall. From the restaurant’s upper deck, diners get a bird’s-eye view of this iconic building. Serving breakfast and lunch throughout the week, it’s rated one of the city’s top Sunday-brunch destinations.