NOTE: This post was originally made many weeks ago, and was a big hit with the Croatian web newsgroups. I had a chance to go back and take a number of new photographs a couple of weekends ago, so I figure I'll move it up to the front of the cue. Scr0ll down to see the new pictures.
BTW, I had a nice writeup of the pictures, taken from a flyer in the north transcept, but must have misfiled it somewhere on my system. For now, though, I'm just so excited about having pictures up at all that I'll post them without comment for the time being--after all, we want people to see the beauty of this little church before the Archbishop closes it down, don't we? And yes, I know the aspect ratio is screwed up on the new pictures. I'll fix that at some point as I get more comfortable with HTML and off-blogger photo hosting.
Original Post: March 25: Here are some pictures of St. John the Baptist, the Croatian church standing at the top of Strawberry Hill in Kansas City, Kansas. This is the church that you can't miss when you come west over the West Bottoms via the Lewis & Clark Viaduct (I-70). It's one of the few old ethnic churches that hasn't lost its ethnic flavor. A few years ago when I first peeked inside, I walked up the steps behind several old men speaking in what sounded like Croatian.
For some time, I've postponed this post, primarily because I've wanted to include interior pictures. My friend, Orville Dishwater, took some photographs with his 35mm years ago on a tour. However (judging from the proof sheet in the package he gave me), he took some of the very best photographs out of the set, perhaps to share with someone else, and so the interior shots I have are (although good) incomplete in this case--they don't include a shot of the High Altar (which judging from the 1cm x 1.5cm image on the proof sheet, was a very nice picture). These interior pictures are just a tease.
So, anyways, it's been a few months since I resolved to get over there again and take interior pictures, and I've still failed to make it at a time when the church was open but Mass or other functions weren't happening. I'm going to try again, and when I finally succeed (if I succeed before the Archbishop closes the church and sells it off to someone to convert into lofts or a bed and breakfast or a heretical meeting house or a gay bar), I'll fill in this post with more interior pictures and some history (beyond the short blurb I've pasted in below).
The church grounds include a former orphanage and and school (not the Strawberry Hill Museum) which is connected to the church by a pedestrian drawbridge over an alley. I've been told that there is a bowling alley and a bar in the basement of this church; however, I have not confirmed this.
The interior is very pretty, as I recall, with a Central-European Roccoco thing going on (a pastel pallate, if I remember correctly, but not kitschy). I will get more pictures at some point, I promise.
Transcribed from History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its people ed. and comp. by Perl W. Morgan. Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1911. 2 v. front., illus., plates, ports., fold. map. 28 cm. [Vol. 2 contains biographical data. Paged continuously.]
ST. JOHN'S CROATIAN CHURCH.
A handsome church used by the Croatian nationality stands at Fourth street and Barnett avenue. It is called the church of St. John the Baptist and is presided over by Father M. D. Krmpotic. The church was built by this clergyman at a cost of $25,000. The architecture is of pure Gothic type, and its interior furnishings are of the finest material. The walls are decorated with paintings of Biblical scenes and characters by artists who came from Croatia for that purpose, The parish also has a $3,000 residence and maintains a school where more than one hundred Croatian children attend and receive instruction in the common branches and good citizenship. There are almost two hundred families in the parish besides about three hundred single men who are members of the congregation.
Updated with photos taken June 20, 2006