More than 100 members of the Jackson County Historical Society gathered Friday, Jan. 23 to welcome new officers and directors and pay tribute to those who have realized outstanding achievements in local history this year.

More than 100 members of the Jackson County Historical Society gathered Friday, Jan. 23 to welcome new officers and directors and pay tribute to those who have realized outstanding achievements in local history this year. 

The setting could not have been more apropos on the sixth floor of the Clubhouse on Baltimore, former headquarters of the Kansas City Club. Surrounded by history in the walnut-paneled dining room in the heart of Kansas City’s burgeoning downtown, guests felt uniquely connected to the county’s rich heritage and promising future.

Ben Mann, past-president of the Society and 2008 Nominating Committee Chair had the honors of introducing the 2009-10 slate of officers. Once approval from membership was secured, guest warmly welcomed incoming President George B. Lopez, a two-term director on the JCHS board, past-chair of the Priests of Pallas Ball, and a vice president with James B. Nutter & Co. Completing the executive committee are President-Elect Ralph Monaco, Treasurer Charlotte Ronan, and Secretary Shirley Wurth. Also joining the board this term are Angie Felarca, Jonathan Kemper, Karen Graves and Jimmy Johnson III.

With the business of the meeting completed, attention was turned towards the awards ceremony. Each year the JCHS board selects individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the historic community through education, volunteerism, preservation, and other endeavors. David Jackson, the Society’s director of archives and education, kicked things off by enumerating the many contributions of Marge Rucker.

A familiar face at the 1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home, Marge has dedicated herself to the planning, cultivation, and care of the landscaping of the Jail’s courthouse.  Devoting her time and expertise to the project, Marge singularly enhances the experience of the Jail’s visitors with her flair and faithfulness in maintaining the site’s impressive garden.

Mann returned to the microphone to introduce the Felicia Hardison Londre, recipient of the society’s educational publication award for her book The Enchanted Years of the Stage: Kansas City at the Crossroads of American Theater 1870-1930, chronicling the heyday of live theater in Jackson County.

Shirley Wurth was privileged to bestow the honor of volunteer achievement on Brian Snyder, a past-director of JCHS who has offered his professional engineering skills and personal passion for history to a range of preservation and restoration projects of historic sites around the region.

Brad Pace welcomed Dan Smith to the podium to receive the Advocates of Local History Award for the Battle of Westport Visitor’s Center in Swope Park. 

The awards ceremony was concluded with a stunning presentation illustrating the restoration and reopening of the Midland Theater as JCHS board member Al Pitzner Jr. presented the historic preservation honor to Anschutz Entertainment Group - AEG Live, AMC, and the Cordish Company.