51st Symphony Designers’ Showhouse Preview

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Standing on a Foundation of Impressive Architectural Design, Time-Honored Materials and Cherished Memories

This historic masterpiece speaks with a voice of distinction, and the walls within contain a story worth sharing.

Story by Ann Butenas

It’s that time of year: time to delight in the Symphony Designers’ Showhouse, a benefit for the Kansas City Symphony. This is a tradition to which Kansas City looks forward every year. Now celebrating its 51st presentation, the finished Showhouse will be open to the public from May 16 through May 31. This is a fantastic opportunity to see how top local designers have added their unique touches to myriad rooms in this one-of-a-kind historic home.

Kellie Sullivan, Chair of the Showhouse Committee, has eagerly anticipated the unveiling of this outstanding abode and instinctively knew from the first moment she crossed its threshold there was something special about the house.

“The first time I walked in, there was just something about it,” she recalled. “I immediately fell in love with it. I had started my search (for this year’s Showhouse) last May, but something kept pulling me back to this one.  Plus, the owners are amazing, and their commitment to wanting to support the symphony just told me this was the one.”

Built in 1909 and located at 500 East 36th Street in the historic Hyde Park neighborhood, this Colonial Revival home was originally designed by Canadian-born architect Louis Curtiss for Frank Brumback and his wife, artist Louise Upton Brumback. Architecture enthusiasts may know Curtiss for his design of the Folly Theater and the historic Bernard Corrigan House, among other notable structures in town. Part of the inherent beauty of this home is that it has confidently withstood the test of time, and many of its original features are still intact. In fact, no construction was even necessary in preparation of the Showhouse event.

“The home has some of its original light fixtures, and its original master suite,” noted Sullivan. Among some of the changes over the years include the installation of the outdoor pool, an updated kitchen layout and the area around it, as well as an additional master suite with a Jack and Jill bathroom. All of the hardwood floors are original, however, but have been refinished over the years. Most of the house still maintains its original materials, even down to the solid brick internal walls.

“This house has made me learn more about Louis and what a unique individual he was, and it is interesting to take on these historical homes to see what we can uncover and learn,” said Sullivan, who indicated several individuals have owned or leased this home over the past century and that it was also once used as a boarding house, as well as a place for young teachers from the Academie Lafayette to reside.

For the past 18 years, however, the Showhouse has been home to Eric Vianello and Andrea Skowronek, along with their two children. Former residents of the Valentine neighborhood, Eric and Andrea were looking for a beautiful, elegant, well-built, brick house in an historic neighborhood.

“We wanted a bigger place in our price range and had looked all over the city but at the time could not find anything better than the home in which we were living. Then, we walked into this one,” recalled Eric. “It took me by surprise.”

Although the house did require some basic cosmetic work, as well as a full kitchen remodel, Eric and Andrea were able to easily move in and begin making memories with their family.

“This was a great place to raise our kids,” expressed Andrea. “The kids learned to swim in the pool, and the big yard was perfect for our pets. The kids are grown now, so it is time to downsize.”

Encompassing roughly 8,000 square feet across three floors, the home has eight bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms, two sunrooms and a separate carriage house apartment. The third floor is almost like a self-contained unit, with a large kitchen, living and laundry area. A two-car garage stands under the adjacent carriage house.

Since they have lived in the home, Eric and Andrea remodeled three bathrooms and the kitchen. Eric described the former kitchen as an 11’ x 37’ shotgun shack kind of space. “The former kitchen was narrow and did not let the light shine in as much,” he indicated.

Andrea and Eric love the home for all of its amazing features, but are most fond of the kitchen area and the Spanish room with its wood-burning fireplace, natural wood beams and original light fixtures.

“This is a great room to gather in,” stated Eric, who along with Andrea, enjoys watching TV here or just listening to music.

The couple is eager to showcase their home and are strong supporters of the music industry in general. Andrea, whose father was a professional flutist, is a retired professional dancer who teaches at the non-profit City in Motion Dance Theater.  Not one to stray too far from the dance floor, she is on the faculty at St. Teresa’s Academy, where she teaches dance and yoga. Eric’s father, Hugo Vianello, was a former associate conductor of both the Kansas City Philharmonic and the Kansas City Symphony, and founder of the Kansas City Civic Orchestra. Eric currently works in the Internet arena.

The house is currently on the market. While they will miss their home, they are also excited for a new family to take ownership and continue its historic legacy.

“Since our kids aren’t here anymore, it’s easier to leave,” expressed Andrea. “This house is so tied to raising our kids, and we cherish the memories we have made here.”

This year’s Showhouse promises to be a well-attended event and certainly one to remember.

“We will transform (the home) in the latest trends and also see history unfold before our eyes,” reflected Sullivan.

Tour Information

May 16 – May 31, 2020    |    500 E. 36th Street, Kansas City, MO

To purchase tickets online, visit showhouse.org

Tickets can be purchased in advance at area Hen House and Hy-Vee locations.    |    Tickets are $20.00 in advance or $25.00 at the door.

Kansas City Homes & Style is Proud to be the OFFICIAL Showhouse Program Publisher.

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Home images shown are before shots. Attend the tour to see the Showhouse designers transformation of this historic home.

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