Harris-Kearney House Museum restoring "Hattie's Room"

Westport Historical Society News Release

Contact: Jennifer McKeithen, Executive Director, (816) 561-1821
Westport Historical Society
4000 Baltimore, Kansas City, MO 64111
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Restoration of "Hattie's Room" continues

The 1855 Harris-Kearney House Museum and Westport Historical Society are pleased to report that work is continuing on “Hattie's Room,” thanks to the generous donations of members, friends, and family descendants. During the demolition of what was most recently a restroom, the original wood floor was discovered. It will be refinished and returned as much as possible to its original state, together with the rest of the room.

Harriet “Hattie” Drisdom Kearney was the only slave ever purchased by Colonel Charles Kearney. Though he had not intended to buy any slaves, Kearney nevertheless bought Harriet in order to save her from a cruel man. Two years later, in 1857, she was given her freedom. Instead of leaving, she chose to stay with her new family. She was the first African-American to be buried in the “white section” of Union Cemetery.

With the completion of Hattie's Room, the 1855 Harris-Kearney House Museum will be the first historic site in Kansas City to interpret slavery and the African-American experience during the 19th century. An exhibit of “Steptoe,” a post-Civil War multi-ethnic neighborhood near Westport, will also be on permanent display.

The grand opening of Hattie's Room is scheduled for spring 2014. Part of the funds have already been raised, but more will be needed to complete the project. Anyone who wishes to contribute is asked to contact the Westport Historical Society.

About the 1855 Harris-Kearney House Museum and Westport Historical Society

Located at 4000 Baltimore, in Kansas City, MO, the 1855 Harris-Kearney House is the oldest remaining residence in Kansas City. The house was built by the Harris family in 1855, and is now a museum owned and operated by the Westport Historical Society. The WHS was founded in 1956 to promote, preserve, and foster public interest in the significant history of Westport, Missouri, the Town of Kansas, and Missouri, as well as their founders.

The 1855 Harris-Kearney House Museum is open for tours Wednesday-Saturday, from 1-5pm. For more information, visit our website, www.westporthistorical.com. Contact us at 816-561-1821, westporthistorical@gmail.com, or find us on Facebook.

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