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Boley Building

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1908–1909, Louis S. Curtiss; 2009 renovated, Helix Architecture + Design. 1124–1130 Walnut St.
  • (Photograph by Cole Woodcox)
  • (Photograph by Cole Woodcox)
  • (Photograph by Cole Woodcox)
  • (Photograph by Cole Woodcox)
  • (Photograph by Cole Woodcox)

The Wainwright Building in St. Louis and Kansas City's Boley Building are the two most important turn-of-the-twentieth-century commercial buildings in Missouri. Curtiss, the most innovative architect in Kansas City at the time, designed this six-story edifice to house former newspaper editor Charles N. Boley's clothing store. Set on a corner lot, the building is one of the earliest known metal-framed and glass-curtain-wall structures. Curtiss had already given Kansas City a number of fascinating buildings by the time he gained this commission, including his own glass-walled studio, also built in 1908–1909. His accomplishment in opening up the Boley Building's facade to fill the store's interior with light is astonishing. Curtiss assembled a sheer, lightweight nonstructural exterior by extending the floors beyond the metal frame and pinning the building's nine-foot-square plate-glass windows to the concrete floors and joining them on the exterior with cast-iron spandrels and mullions. This confident and stylish handling of metal and glass creates an extraordinary effect of transparent volume over mass. This transparency and lightness was carried through the interior with its glass-enclosed elevators and plate-glass showcases and counters. The Boley Building has round-arched entrances at the ends of each of its two facades, and white terra-cotta framing with Art Nouveau detailing. Curtiss's innovative design is remarkable and far less known than Willis Polk's Hallidie Building in San Francisco, which was not completed until 1918. (Polk had lived in Kansas City and knew Curtiss.) The Boley store closed in 1915 and subsequently housed various tenants; it now serves as offices for the newspaper publisher Andrews McMeel Universal.

Writing Credits

Cole Woodcox and Keith Eggener
Osmund Overby, Carol Grove, and Cole Woodcox



  • 1908

  • 2009


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Cole Woodcox and Keith Eggener, "Boley Building", [Kansas City, Missouri], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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