By Kevin Collison
The 130-year-old Queen Anne Revival Victorian mansion on downtown’s West Side charmed Megan Duma the moment she saw it listed more than a year ago.
Only problem, the Kansas City, Kan. native was on the other side of the world in Sydney, Australia, when she fell in love with the old brick manor.
“I thought, ‘oh my gosh, this is a project I’d like to do,'” Duma said. “My mother ran all the inspections for me. By the time I flew to Kansas City to see it, we already had it under contract.”
She quickly discovered though, her new project was going to be a huge undertaking.
“The house was in really bad shape, no plumbing to speak of and the electricity was pieced together with an extension cord,”she said. “There was no heat and the walls were falling down.
“The first day the demolition guys came, a raccoon was hanging on a ladder on the third floor.”
After more than a year of renovation and antique hunting, she’s now ready to show off the J.G. Peppard House at 1704 Jefferson St. It’s being reopened as as Airbnb with fully-furnished accommodations on each of its three levels.
And the raccoon is now residing in Swope Park.
An open house is scheduled for this First Friday (April 6) from 4- to 9 p.m. There will be a jazz trio starting at 5:30 p.m., champagne and actors playing Mrs. and Mrs. Peppard.
Visitors will find a carefully restored piece of Kansas City history with eight bedrooms, five bathrooms, three full luxury kitchens, washers and dryers in each unit, all new mechanical and plumbing and Nest thermostats and security cameras.
It can be booked as a whole for large parties such as wedding groups, or each floor can be booked separately. Each unit has a separate entrance.
Joseph Greer Peppard, who earned his living selling seed to farmers, built the home in 1887 and lived there with his family. A child was born there and his mother-in-law passed away (a family portrait is in the first floor hallway) before the Peppards sold it in 1909.
Like many of the neighboring 19th Century mansions on Jefferson Street, it became a boarding house.
When Duma first bought it, she thought it might be her new home.
“But it became clear we couldn’t afford for it to be our home, so we had to figure out a way to make it work,” she said.
Her return to Kansas City comes after leaving for college in San Antonio, where she played volleyball at St. Mary’s University, and then graduating from law school at California Western in San Diego in 2007.
After an unsatisfying stint working for a big law firm, she decided to travel abroad for a couple years with her current partner, Ryan Higgins, a Sydney native. The couple wound up living in Saint Martin in the Caribbean for three years.
Now, the couple and their toddler son Bo are living in Prairie Village, but her heart resides on Jefferson Street.
The unit on each floor has its own name, The Parlour Flat, The Grand Turret Flat and Le3rd Fleur, and each has its own personality.
Many of the furnishings come from the antique stores in the West Bottoms, and owners are quick to tell her when something desirable shows up.
Her favorite space is the distinctive turret area on the second floor. Turrets were a classic feature of Queen Anne architecture and with its tall, leaded windows, the one at the Peppard House is a cozy niche bathed in natural light.
The mansion offers views of downtown Kansas City, and it’s within walking distance of the Power & Light District, Sprint Center, Crossroads Arts District and the Kauffman Center.
“This neighborhood is one of Kansas City’s oldest and the West Side is such a special community,” Duma said.
“The idea was to give people a place to stay in Kansas City where they can stay together and is just as awesome the reason they came here.
“It’s a building that tells the history of our city.”
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