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Monthly Event Hosted by El Torreon
April 27 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
The Urban Core is excited to host our meeting this month at El Torreon! The late 1920’s saw the 31st and Gillham area have an explosion in development. Gilham Road was named after the designer of Kansas City’s streetcar system.
The El Torreon (the Tower) at 3101 Place sprang to life in 1927 as “the destination” event center in Kansas City. Its upper floor hosted some of the best-known dance bands in the country, Cab Callaway for one. At that time the El Torreon had the highest unsupported/freestanding ceiling in Kansas City. The upper ballroom hosted huge dances on the weekends. The ground floor was also used as a ballroom as well as a space from car shows to classical music performances. Rumor has it that there were/are storage rooms under in the basement accessible through tunnels where alcohol was stored during the prohibition days. Just rumors but cool ones. You may want to ask Chris Colvin the General manager about storage areas.
The Torreon was the first ballroom in Kansas City that allowed Black Musicians to perform but didn’t allow Black patrons to patronize the events, very sad in our history. In the 1940’s, the upper level was also used as a skating rink (1937-1962). Roller skating was immensely popular at that time and had to have been a hoot to skate in an area that large. The skating rink closed in 1974.
The lower ballroom had marble floors that were recently restored in the last few years… Fast forward to the 1990’s when the Torreon upper ballroom (referred to as the Cowtown Hall and Ballroom) hosted art shows, popular bands and movie premiers. Later, rock and punk bands performed in the early 2000’s.
Today the current owners, the Bridgeport Church, is planning a massive renovation of the upper ballroom turning it back into a music venue. There’s still work to be done on the building but the Urban Core will have their monthly event there this month. Won’t you join us to experience one of Kansas City’s iconic structures in its current makeover? This building is a real-life time capsule from 100 years ago. As Al Jolson once said in the first motion picture with sound, “Wait a minute … you ain’t heard nothin’ yet.”
The Urban Core is all about celebrating Kansas City’s past by showcasing the future. We can’t spell sUccess without “U”. PS. here’s a blast from October 29, 2008 when we were there last.