Haunted history: Inside the Harris-Kearney House in Westport

Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 5:16 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A popular home in Westport is popular among paranormal investigators this time of year.

In the weeks before Halloween, ghost hunters book tours of the Harris-Kearney House to try and catch a glimpse of the otherworldly.

In the case of Tori Sheets and her friends, Kansas City’s oldest brick home made the perfect place for a bachelorette party.

“We couldn’t be more excited,” Sheets said.

Sheets and her friends sat in a circle around a device that scans radio frequencies, purportedly a way of communicating with spirits. While KCTV5 was there observing them, their equipment only picked up the occasional blip of anything unusual. But for Sheets, the experience with her friends was more important.

“If it happens, it happens,” Sheets said. “It’s just about spending time with my girls.”

The house is one of Kansas City’s oldest buildings and currently houses the Westport Historical Society museum.

It was built in 1855 by Col. John and Henrietta Harris. It later became the home of Col. Charles Kearney, who had married into the family.

According to the historical summary on the Westport Historical Society’s website, “The grand home was known as the ‘Mansion House.’ The bricks and mill work for the mansion were made on the premises by African American slaves. Originally, Col. Harris’ mansion stood on 5 acres of land at the southwest corner of the intersection of present-day Westport Road and Main Street.”

The home was later moved in 1922 to its current location at 40th Street and Baltimore Avenue. Alana Smith, the director of the society, described it as a place that captures the history of the city itself.

Smith said, “The fact that we’re on the three trails -- Santa Fe, Oregon, California -- means we can tell those stories.”

There’s another way of examining the history of the house, however. The manor has become a modern day source for ghost stories and legends. It is popular among paranormal enthusiasts like Sheets.

The stories include moving mannequins, a piano that plays on its own, ghostly orbs appearing on the staircase, a mysterious white mist, and the occasional glimpse of a woman in a dress.

Elijah Buchholz, who owns an investigation group named Apex Paranormal, called it one of his favorite spots to lead tours.

“When you have multiple people reporting the same things, you know you’ve really got something,” Buchholz said.

Smith embraces the tours, noting that it often brings a renewed interest in a place and its many stories.

“There’s an interest,” Smith said. “People want it. Why not share it?”

Sheets seemed to enjoy learning about the history of the Harris-Kearney house with her friends.

“Spending hours inside a historic location gives you an experience you can’t get anywhere else,” she said.

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