Foundation for Delta Educational and Economic Development

History of the Athenaeum

The origin of the Athenaeum dates to 1894, when a civic-minded group of women organized “The Kansas City Athenaeum Club” to meet in study groups and influence city affairs.

The Athenaeum Club began raising funds in the early 1900’s to commission a grand building in Greek revival architectural style as a gathering place for “literary learning” and community service. The final inspiration to build the Club House came in 1907 when a fire suspiciously broke out in the Pepper Building as 100 Club members gathered for their annual business meeting. The women ultimately raised $33,000 to purchase land and lay the cornerstone of the “Kansas City Athenaeum Clubhouse” in 1913.

The Athenaeum Clubhouse opened in 1914 at the intersection of Linwood Boulevard and Campbell Street in the Hyde Park neighborhood. For more than 100 years, Club members gathered at the facility to mobilize civic engagement and philanthropy for such initiatives as Truman Hospital, the Rose Garden at Loose Park, Children’s Mercy Hospital, and daycare options for working mothers. When its membership dwindled from more than 900 women in the 1920’s to a few dozen in 2015, the Club sold the Athenaeum property to the DEED Foundation as a women’s organization with a shared commitment for charitable fundraising and community service.