Dek: When an invitation includes the words “at the beautiful home of Kelly Cole and Charles Shrout,” party planners can expect to see an uptick in the number of RSVPs. That was certainly the case for the Symphony Ball patrons’ party held there a few evenings before the gala.
Dozens of guests mingled in the historic Ward Parkway Tudor, enjoying a lavish array of food created by The American Restaurant’s executive chef, Debbie Gold and sweets from its pastry chef Nick Wesemann. Ladies chatted about the gowns they would wear that weekend while couples checked out the exciting list of auction items. Murray, the adorable cocker spaniel, greeted nearly every newcomer.
Several partygoers, including Ursula Terrasi (who chaired the auction) and Luis Taveras, had been to the home before. Others happily followed Cole’s invitation at the door to “feel free to look around. Nothing’s off limits.” And so, the home became the evening’s entertainment as people spread out to tour the magnificent home built for Michael H. and Rose Katz in 1928.
Michael, along with his older brother Isaac, turned the Katz Drugstore empire into a Kansas City success story. At the company’s heyday in the 1950s and ’60s, there were more than 60 locations in several Midwest states, including the iconic Art Deco store designed by Clarence Kivett––at one time the world’s largest drug store––with its black cat symbol and large clock on the corner of Main Street and Westport Road. Perhaps Cole is channeling the former homeowner’s talent for merchandising and marketing; as president and CEO of Halls Kansas City, he’s admired for bringing new energy to the beloved brand.
Michael Katz’ success allowed him to commission one of the most striking homes on Ward Parkway, with its unusually tall and steeply pitched front gable and massive tower with decorative brickwork. The landmark home is in pristine condition, with exquisite original light fixtures, including twin sconces in the foyer and a breathtaking chandelier in the dining room. An Art Nouveau style glass window adorns the north bay of the west façade. On the back of the formal living room––with an enormous fireplace––is a lovely sunroom with arched windows.
The current owners have enhanced the home with their own style, of course, by bringing in wonderful artwork that adds color to the pale walls. When a guest complimented Cole on a large piece by local artist, Lisa Lala, he said: “This was the first painting we bought for the home. I just love her work.”
Cole continued with a quick history of the home, noting that the architect, Robert Gornall, also designed other significant spaces in Kansas City including the elaborate Uptown Theatre. Others of Gornall’s designs, including the Tocoma Building, also known as the Netherlands Hotel at 38th and Main, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Cole also says he continues to learn more about the home’s history from people who lived in the neighborhood or visited former residents. Nicole Wang mentioned that her husband, Myron, had played with the Katz children in the playroom downstairs.
The home is ideal for entertaining, and Kelly Cole and Charles Shrout are known for being gracious hosts. And the dress code isn’t always chic cocktail dresses and suits, as it was this night. A casual get-together for the Kansas City Free Health Clinic, where Cole serves as a board member, called for denim, and the fare wasn’t a buffet of savory and sweet dishes from The American Restaurant, but pizza and hot dogs. Murray, it was noted by one attendee, was in canine heaven while begging for snacks.
No matter the occasion, the backyard serves as another room during nice weather. Shrout explained that they completely renovated the gardens, adding the small pool and flower-decked patios where guests, coming together to support the Kansas City Symphony, socialized on an unusually warm night in early September.