The Society's first project involves the restoration and preservation of the 100-year-old William Rockhill Nelson Memorial Chapel. The Society owns and is responsible for the care of the chapel, in keeping with the wishes of the Nelson family. There are no descendants.
Nelson founded The Kansas City Star newspaper in 1880. He is interred in the chapel with his wife Ida, their daughter Laura and her husband Irwin Russell Kirkwood. The chapel is also of architectural significance. It was designed by the noted Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt who also designed the landmark Union Station in Kansas City. The beautiful tile, vaulted ceiling was the work of Raphael Guastavino who also created the magnificent ceilings in the Boston Public Library and the Grand Hall at Ellis Island.
The Society recently completed repairs to the Nelson Chapel roof. While mitigating water issues is the first step in preserving any building, there is so much that remains to be done on the chapel. It needs a lot of TLC, including:
The historic building is structurally sound and the society is fully committed to keeping it that way for the
benefit of future generations.
A 1917 view of the Nelson chapel interior
Nelson Memorial Chapel - photo by Bruce Mathews, 2019