The Unity Clubhouse is near and dear to my heart because it’s a big part of my family’s history. Both of my sons, 4-year-old Daniel and 1-year-old Gabriel, had their first birthday parties at this English Cotswold-style building dating from the 1920s, which sits next to the now-defunct Unity Village Pool. (Don’t confuse this structure on Clubhouse Drive with the larger Golf Clubhouse on Country Club Drive, which serves patrons of the Unity Village Golf Course.)
The original intent of the Clubhouse was to be a place for Unity employees to hang out. It was one of the first permanent buildings at what was then called Unity Farm, when Unity headquarters was still located about 20 miles away in downtown Kansas City. Starting January 1922, employees could sign up for memberships at $1 for each half-year. A company truck ferried people to the Clubhouse from downtown for 25 cents for members and 50 cents for nonmembers (round-trip).
According to the 1922 Unity Country Club Information and Rules handbook, “The purpose of the Club is to provide clean, constructive amusements such as parties, dances, baseball, golf, tennis, hiking parties, and nature study, for the workers of Unity School of Christianity and their friends.” Some of the rules included: No meat or smoking, no noise after 11 p.m., and no dancing or card playing on Sundays. Although memberships haven’t been available for a while, the building has been in near-continuous use, hosting family get-togethers, retreats, and various prayer and Bible study groups.
Like most other historic buildings on campus, the Clubhouse just oozes cool. The prominent red shingle roof, the heavy wooden front door on old wrought iron hinges, and plentiful old-fashioned windows evoke a different era. This is one of the many small masterpieces designed by Unity Village architect Rickert Fillmore, son of Charles Fillmore and Myrtle Fillmore. The interior features a vaulted ceiling and exposed, railroad-tie support beams. The main floor includes a kitchen, dining room, entertainment space, huge fireplace, and sitting area.
Recently, the Clubhouse has been closed mainly because of water damage in the basement, which has affected the foundation. Repair estimates total between $75,000-$90,000. Unity is currently searching for donors to support the cost of restoring the Clubhouse to working order.
If I had my way (and the money) I would purchase the building and live in it—but that would mean that future generations, including families looking for cool birthday party venues, would not be able to enjoy such a unique place.
For information about funding Clubhouse renovations, call the Unity Development office at 816-251-3561.