Longview Farms is at a critical juncture.
Preservation of the Longview Barns
“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” Winston Churchill
The Longview Farm barns are beautiful treasures that bring character and charm to Lee’s Summit, but they serve a greater purpose.
The barns, and the other historic farm structures, are visual reminders of our shared history. They provide a connection and understanding of our heritage and embody the lives of those before us – the people who built them, those who worked in them, the communities that benefited, and the family who owned them. The barns have stories to tell and preserving those stories help build community.
If you would like to join Longview Alliance and work to preserve Longview Farm historic, visit www.longviewalliance.com and join our email list.
Longview Farm: What has been lost?
At its height, the Longview Farm was not only one of the most progressive agricultural operations in the nation, but it was acclaimed as the world’s most beautiful with over 1700 acres of rolling hills and lush green pastures, white rail fencing, stunning landscaping, and 60 buildings of white stucco and red tile roofs. The farm was home to award winning horses and jersey cows, prize winning flowers, and a family of international acclaim.
The farm declined in the 1930’s following R A Long’s death, the Great Depression and WWII, and by the mid-1970’s farm operations had ceased. By 1980 much of the acreage and many of the buildings were taken through eminent domain. One hundred years later, only fifteen structures and remnants of the original farm remain. (Teresa T. Mitchell, Longview Farm; Biography of a Dream Come True.)
Longview Farm was once on the National Register of Historic Places (1985), a designation that was lost due to changes over the years. Let’s not let another building slip away forever. It is up to us to preserve Longview Farm’s legacy.
If you want the remaining historic structures renovated – the Pergola, the Dairy Palace, the Calf and Shelter Barns, the Saddle Horse Manager House, the Dairy Manager’s House and the Longview Mansion – visit our Get Involved page to join our voice in the community.
Longview Farm and New Longview - What is going on now?
New Longview neighborhood was designed in the early 2000’s by Gale Communities. The master plan included commercial, single and multi-family residential, as well as, preservation of the historic farm structures.
Tax Increment Financing and Transportation Development District plans were put into place to support the historic renovation and infrastructure costs. As a result, the two iconic entry archways were restored, and the Show Horse Arena was successfully transformed into the Longview Farm Elementary School. The school is a shining example of public-private partnership and source of pride for our entire community.
During the 2009 downturn in the economy, commercial and residential absorption and revenues fell far short of projections. After successfully developing commercial buildings and a beloved residential neighborhood south of Longview Road, Gale Communities lost the remainder of the undeveloped land in a foreclosure to Mariner Real Estate Management (Mariner).
In 2014 the Lee’s Summit City Council granted Mariner a deferment of its TIF obligations. In turn Mariner is not obligated to start historical restoration of the Pergola before proceeding with residential development.
In Mariner’s first presentation to the neighborhood they announced they do not plan to continue building in the New Longview style (traditional neighborhood design) in their next phase north of Longview Road, and they do not have a specific plan for historic restoration to share.
In turn, a group of concerned residents formed Longview Alliance. We understand that the best way to work for change and have a voice in future development is to organize, collaborate, and develop a unified message.
R. A. Long’s Gifts
In his day, R. A. Long was a powerhouse - a type of Rockefeller of Kansas City. He was innovative, hardworking, ethical, and a generous man that realized the American Dream.
In his day, R. A. Long ran the largest lumber company in the world. His home, Corinthian Hall, was the most modern and opulent mansion in KC. He built KC’s first sky scraper, built a cutting edge country estate and farm, and was one of our Kansas City’s greatest philanthropists.
Long was a savvy businessman who acquired acres of timberland throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Michigan, Wisconsin and Washington. By 1912 Long had acquired 13 lumber companies, 11 saw mill plants, 6 subsidiary companies, a railroad, and 87 retail lumber yards.
So why do so few people know his story? Likely because of his generosity. Over the years he gave away a large portion of his wealth, and by the end of his life (and following the great depression) his fortune was depleted.
He regularly donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to local causes he deemed worthy. He led the campaign to raise funds to build the Liberty Memorial and served as the founding president of the Liberty Memorial Association. He also funded Kansas City’s Independence Boulevard Christian Church, Saint Paul School of Theology and the Christian Church Hospital. His influence reached beyond Kansas City. Near his lumber mills in Washington State, he built the city of Longview’s first library, high school, train station, and gave generously to the city of Longview.
His generosity is embedded in the foundation of Kansas City, Lee’s Summit, and beyond. We should honor his legacy by saving Longview Farm.