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'This is Kansas City history': Elmwood Cemetery Society breaks ground on Armour Chapel renovations

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Posted at 7:39 PM, Apr 19, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A historic building at the Elmwood Cemetery in Northeast Kansas City is getting a makeover.

Constructed in 1901, the Armour Chapel was a love letter from Annie Armour to her late husband, Kirkland Armour. That love still lives on, through people like Nancy and Ray Elder.

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“It was designed with love and thought of perpetuity in mind,” said Nancy Elder. “And we want people to be reverent when they are here and just enjoy the beauty.”

For 120 years, the chapel has been a historic backdrop to countless funerals and weddings. Many of them were attended by the Elder’s.

“I have a brother buried here and I have numerous friends that I’ve come to see ‘em go away,” said Ray Elder. “I was on the Kansas City Fire Department. I have six firefighters that died in the line of duty buried in this cemetery.”

Every Memorial Day, the couple comes to the Elmwood Cemetery and helps other people locate their loved ones. With over 35,000 burials, the grounds hold decades of history and forgotten stories.

Alison Paddock with the Elmwood Cemetery Society has made it her mission to search for those stories and tell them.

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“We love the grounds, we love everything about this sacred place,” said Paddock. This is Kansas City history. All of Elmwood is all about the people who lived and worked and formed Kansas City.”

That is why supporters broke ground on renovations on Friday.

A portion of the Armour Chapel will be demolished. In its place, a new restroom, changing area for brides and ADA accessible ramp will be built.

The hope is the historic building will continue to be a part of those special moments for another hundred years.

“We’re trying very hard to keep it in the foremost of people’s thinking,” said Nancy Elder. “We have two lots here to be buried.”