Remember the MCC murals found in Westport? Here’s what they look like now

The Junior College of Kansas City, which would later be known as Metropolitan Community College

Those murals painted on the walls of an art classroom in 1948 by Junior College of Kansas City students are looking quite handsome in their 70th year.

As we described in this story from September 2016, the long-forgotten historical murals were found during the renovation of a Westport building that was the Junior College’s home from 1942-1969. The Junior College became “Metropolitan” in 1964.

When we visited the old school at 39th and McGee streets in the summer of 2016, this was what the mural room on the fourth floor looked like:

Photo by Tim Engle/MCC

And here’s what it looks like today, following restoration of the artwork and a complete makeover of the room. (Click image to see it larger.)

Photo courtesy Plexpod Westport

The imposing structure, originally built as a junior high school, is now Plexpod Westport, a “coworking” campus that rents desks, offices and meeting space for entrepreneurs. The former Room 402 is now labeled 4C and is known as the Historical Mural Room, community manager Julie Steele says.

The mural room, completed last summer, is used as a conference room and event space. It’s available for $65 an hour (with a 10 percent discount for nonprofits). Steele says she gets a lot of questions about the murals from Plexpod members and people touring the building.

Jones’ original signature on the mural

The person thought to be the last survivor of the 15 student muralists was the Rev. Charles F. Jones, who attended Plexpod Westport’s grand opening last October. The 87-year-old Catholic priest rolled through the hallways of his old school in a wheelchair and re-signed his name on the mural above his original signature. [ Catholic Key article: A tale of a mural and a priest ]

Sadly, “Father Chuck” died last Dec. 9.

The building had been vacant for a decade when the Plexpod developers bought it in 2016. They called the found artwork “The History of Kansas City” — it’s a pictorial story complete with Indians, settlers, buffalo, covered wagons, stagecoaches and steamboats. More modern scenes depicted the Liberty Memorial, Union Station and what appeared to be Municipal Auditorium.

Related: MCC student murals created in the 1940s turn up in old Westport school

MCC’s history: Kansas City’s first public institution of higher education, Missouri’s first community college

Monumental moments in MCC history