|Known as “The World’s Most Beautiful Farm”
during the early 1900s, Longview Farm was built by visionary lumber baron
and philanthropist Robert A. Long. Mr. Long purchased the 1,700 acres that
would become the historic farm in 1909. He envisioned a technologically
advanced, self-sufficient farming operation designed to provide for the
needs of his workers while contributing to the well being of the greater
community. Mr. Long hired Henry Hoit to be his architect and George Kessler
as landscape architect. Mr. Hoit is known for the Kansas City Power and
Light Building and Corinthian Hall, formerly the Long home in northeast
Kansas City and currently the home of the Kansas City Museum. Mr. Long also
built Kansas City’s first skyscraper, the R.A. Long Building at 10th
and Grand as headquarters for his Long-Bell Lumber Co.
Longview Mansion, including 48 rooms and six fireplaces, and 42 other farm structures were constructed during 1913 and 1914. More than 2,000 workers were employed during this time, including a number of craftsmen from Europe, to create the well-known structures featuring matching cream stucco walls, brown trim and red Spanish tile roofs. At the time, this project employed more workers than any other project in the world. Some of the features of the self-sustaining farm were a 20-acre lake and filtered water system, a greenhouse known for producing 48,000 roses annually, a 1,500-seat grandstand, the farm’s own chapel (currently Longview Chapel Christian Church), a schoolhouse, a movie theatre, an orchard and additional barns to house the farm’s horses, dairy cows and hogs. Longview Farm also featured seven miles of street-lit roadway, 30 miles of whitewashed fences, a half-mile race track, an independent telephone service with a private switchboard operator, its own security system and its own natural gas supply. The Show Horse Arena included 150 stalls. At 260 feet by 42 feet, it was thought to be the largest indoor arena in the world. Approximately 400 people lived on the self-sufficient farm during the first part of the last century. Many of the farm’s structures have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1917, Loula Long Combs (1881-1971) and her husband moved to Longview Farm where she lived for 57 years. Loula raised prize-winning show horses on the farm and was internationally recognized for her horsemanship skills. She captured blue ribbons throughout North America and Europe in numerous horse shows. Loula was known in the national press as the “First Lady” of the show-horse arena and as the “Queen of the American Royal.” Her name is listed in the Madison Square Gardens Hall of Fame, and she was the first woman to compete in horse shows. Loula is also remembered for her love of horses and dogs. An upstairs room in the Longview Mansion -- with one of the best views of the farm grounds -- was reportedly dedicated solely to Loula’s dogs. Loula’s favorite show horse, Revelation, was especially dear to her and is buried near the Show Horse Arena. The horse’s historic grave marker has been left intact and on display as part of the grounds of Longview Farm Elementary School.
The Long family was also acknowledged for their generosity. Mr. Long was the primary financier of Kansas City’s Liberty Memorial in the early part of the 1900s. Toward the end of their lives, Loula Long Combs and her sister, Sally America Long Ellis, donated approximately 146 acres as the site for Longview Community College. Other parcels of the farm were later sold, and a large portion of the property became Longview Lake when the Army Corps of Engineers acquired the land in 1978 through eminent domain.
Unfortunately, the renowned Longview Farm fell into a state of disrepair
by the mid-1970s. Since then, many community members have hoped for a
vital use for the historic farm as well as preservation of the structures.
Thanks to the Longview Farm Elementary School partnership as well as the
New Longview development, many farm structures are being preserved. In
addition to the restoration work made possible at the elementary school,
restoration is continuing at the 48-room Longview Mansion. Plans also
call for approximately 100,000 square feet of office and commercial space
to be centered in the refurbished calf and dairy barns within New Longview.
Another high-profile improvement has been the relocating and refurbishment
of the famed Longview Farm entry arches.
|The Longview Farm Elementary Partnership
© Copyright 2005