The Many Lives of 901 Tracy Avenue

A few years ago I visited Weird Stuff Antiques on 901 Tracy in Northeast Kansas City. I couldn’t help myself. The space was so full of “stuff” that it was actually spilling out onto the street. I’m not actually an antiquer. I’m more likely to buy a WWII compass with a broken crystal just so that I can tell myself a story about it than to buy someone’s grandma’s dresser. Weird Stuff had it all and the owner Terry Sanchez told wonderful stories like nobody’s business. Terry and wife Unique have since moved Weird Stuff to 700 Woodswether Road.

In 1898 Charles and Myrtle Filmore, believing that Myrtle had been healed of a lifetime of tuberculosis due to spiritual healing, began what would later be known as Unity Church. The 900 block of Tracy became the first home of Unity Church. It included administrative offices, a printing facility and a radio studio. The vegetarian cuisine that was offered to Unity workers was so popular that the Inn on 901 was built to serve exclusively vegetarian cuisine.

The Filmores bought 58 acres near Lee’s Summit where they grew vegetables, fruits and eggs for Unity Inn. They later bought an additional 1000 acres where they fulfilled their dream of building a self-sustainable, independent city. It is now the home of the Unity Headquarters also known as Unity Village. It continues to hold the status of an independent city.

Though 901 is eligible for to be listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the facility has been altered and would have to be restored to original state. The structure on 901 Tracy Avenue was design by architect Elmer Boillot of Boillot and Lauck. The firm is also responsible for the design of The Walnuts and The Phillips Hotel. Mr. Boillot is also responsible for the Italian Renaissance design used in the building of Unity Village.

The Fountain Theater

A recent fund raising even for Manny Abarca offered a look at the newly renovated 901 Tracy Avenue. New Floors, fresh paint and gorgeous sunlight streaming the the abundant windows created an interesting contrast to the once “full” space.

Though renovations on the second floor are incomplete the spacious area includes a stage and a possible lounge or dressing area. Upon completion the space will be offered for weddings, concerts, theatrical events or other events.

Congressman Cleaver was in attendance and endorsed Abarca for Missouri House District 19. The event and the newly renovated space serve as further evidence that Kansas City’s Northeast is resurrecting and reclaiming it’s beautiful historic past.