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James Pendergast Memorial
James Pendergast Memorial
TitleJames Pendergast Memorial
DescriptionPostcard of the James Pendergast Memorial
Historical ArticleThe Pendergast statue in Mulkey Square, 13th and Madison, was designed by Frederick C. Hibbard, a Chicago sculptor. The memorial originally was a fountain. In addition to the seated figure of James Pendergast there were figures of children holding drinking bowls. The bronze statue on a granite base was once exhibited at the Chicago Art Institute. It was dedicated in Kansas City on July 4, 1913. The post card was published in France.

The Haskell-Fowler book City of the Future describes Jim Pendergast, for whom the memorial was erected: He was the poor man's saloon keeper in the old West Bottoms near the Union Depot, a powerfully built man with a big mustache and a soothing voice. Friendship was his cult. Long before he had any idea of going into politics he dug into his pocket to help floaters with their next meal, looked after the affairs of his customers and gave sound family advice.

One election in the 1800s this saloon keeper and counselor passed the word that a candidate for mayor was his friend and votes would be appreciated. The turnout was so surprising that overnight Jim Pendergast discovered the power of friendship in politics. Later he served 18 years as alderman and played a hard game of spoils politics.

In the 1920s Jim's younger brother, Thomas J. Pendergast, sometimes occupied the boss' office in an upstairs room at 1908 Main, and it was this brother who had the James Pendergast memorial erected with public subscription funds.

The people who placed the statue were thoughtful enough to set it so that Alderman Jim looks directly over the ground where he operated the saloon and inn that established the family's fortune in business and politics, wrote William M. Reddig in his book, Tom's Town.

Twelfth Street at this point intersects Kersey Coates Drive (no longer in existence) and plunges west over a viaduct into a bottomland region of railroad tracks, warehouses, freight offices, factories packing plants, stockyards, bridges and viaducts. Some six blocks west is the Kansas-Missouri state line and just beyond that boundary the Kaw or Kansas River winds to its imminent meeting with the Missouri. Off to the right the great bend of the Missouri at Kawsmouth is clearly visible from the eminence on which the Pendergast memorial stands.

The bronze memorial, often vandalized and often repaired, still stands at the sightly point. It can best be reached today by proceeding to 14th and Summit streets, and then turning west.

Kansas City Times
June 9, 1978

AuthorRay, Mrs. Sam (Mildred)
Item TypePostcard
CollectionMrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection (SC58)
See finding aid: http://localhistory.kclibrary.org/u?/Local,36981
Local SubjectPendergast, James F.
Jim Pendergast Statue
Digital FormatJPEG
RepositoryMissouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri
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