Bernard Corrigan’s name means two things: Kansas City’s first city-wide street railway, and one of the most spectacular houses in the Country Club district.
‘Barney’ Corrigan was born in Quebec, August 15, 1847 to a successful Canadian farm family. Twenty-one years later, he and his brothers came to Kansas City to make their mark. When he died here 46 years later, Corrigan had made his fortune, largely in railroads.
Barney Corrigan, and his older brother, Thomas, bought up their competition here. Before 1900, they put together 15 separate rail lines, creating one single city-wide streetcar system that really worked. A first for Kansas city.
Corrigan’s more recent renown stems from his remarkable house. In 1912 Barney commissioned Kansas City’s flamboyant architect and fellow Canadian Louis Curtiss to design a splendid house (25 rooms) for his family. Corrigan had 18 offspring – ten by his first wife, and eight by his second.
Curtiss designed a strikingly modern horizontal two-storey Art Nouveau house of concrete. He faced it with Carthage cut stone and set it on a large corner lot on the north-west corner of 55th and Ward Parkway. It was estimated to cost upwards of $200,000.00.
On January 6, 1914, only a few minutes before going south to inspect its progress, 66 year old Barney Coirrigan was stricken and died. So the family never occupied their stunning house, still much admired at 1200 West 55th Street, Kansas City, Kansas.
THE KANSAS CITY TIMES
January 7, 1914
BERNARD CORRIGAN DEAD
PIONEER AND FORMER STREET RAILWAY
HEAD EXPIRED SUDDENLY
He Rallied From a Heart Attack Early
Yesterday, but Succumbed to a
Second One Late in the Afternoon
Bernard Corrigan, contractor and former president of the Metropolitan Street Railway Company, died at his home, 1701 Summiet Street, at 2:50 o’clock yesterday afternoon, of heart failure. He was 66 years old.
Mr. Corrigan arose early yesterday morning, apparently in his usual health. He ate a hearty breakfast and about 7:00 o’clock went into the sitting room to read the papers. A few minutes later he was seized with a heart attack. Dr. J. Block and Dr. R.T. Sloan were summoned. Later Mr. Corrigan seemed to rally from the stroke. He did not lose consciousness all day.
“Well, it was a pretty stiff jolt, all right,” he told members of the family who gathered around his bedside, “but I’ll pull through.” The physicians also believed he would survive the attack.
SECOND ATTACK WAS FATAL
A few minutes before 3:00 o’clock, with twelve of his fourteen children and many relatives and friends around him, Mr. Corrigan had a second attack and died immediately. His son, Emmett, absent from the city on business, and a daughter, Mrs. Robert Salembier of New York, were the only children not present.
Mr. Corrigan’s health failed about two years ago and for a while he gave up active charge of his affairs. His condition improved later, however, and he resumed the management of his contracting business. The attack yesterday was the first indication of any serious trouble since that time.
NEW HOME NOT OCCUPIED
Mr. Corrigan was to leave in a few minutes to inspect his new home in Sunset Hill when he was stricken. He expected to move into the house, erected at the corner of Fifty-fifth Street and Ward Parkway, at a cost of $125,000, about the 1st of March.
The residence is absolutely fireproof. The roof and cornice are of re-enforced concrete, as well as all the floors, partitions, and walls. The main hall is of marble, with marble stairs. The remainder of the first floor contains a large living room, sun room, music room, dining room, breakfast room, kitchen, and pantries. The entire house contains twenty-five rooms.
IN EARLY DAY STREET CAR LINE
Mr. Corrigan was born in Canada in 1847, and came to Kansas City in 1868. He formed a partnership with his brothers, Thomas and Patrick, to engage in railroad construction and amassed a fortune, which was largely invested in Kansas City real estate and street railroads. In 1875 he and his brother Thomas effected the organization of a company which purchased all the street railroads in Kansas City except the old mule car line to Westport, owned by Nehemiah Holmes. In 1886 the Metropolitan Street Railway Company was organized to take over all of the lines in both cities and the Corrigan interests were purchased for 1 million dollars.
IN RAILWAY CONSTRUCTION
Mr. Corrigan then devoted his attention to his contracting business and built a large part of the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf and the Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf railroads.
In May, 1902, he gave up his work as a builder of dams, railroad grades, and construction work of all kinds in the West and South and returned to the street car business as president of the Metropolitan to succeed Walton H. Holmes, also C.F. Homes as president of the Kansas City Electric Light Company. During his presidency an effort was made to get a 42-year franchise for the company. After the defeat of this franchise in December, 1909, Mr. Corrigan resigned as president. That was January 12, 1910. He was succeeded as president by John M. Egan, who became general manager for the receivers when the Metropolitan was taken into the federal court.
MR. CORRIGAN’S FAMILY
On his retirement from the Metropolitan Mr. Corrigan resumed his contracting operations. His last large piece of construction work was the O.K. Creek sewer, which was recently finished as a part of the now Union Station and terminal plans. Mr. Corrigan was a part owner of the Hotel Baltimore and a stockholder in the First National Bank.
Mr. Corrigan’s first wife was Mamie Shannon, daughter of Patrick Shannon, a pioneer dry goods merchant and former mayor, who for many years conducted a store on the levee. She died in 1894. His second wife, who is still living, was Miss Hattie Fourt of Baltimore. There were ten children by his first marriage and eight by his second. Bernard Corrigan, Jr., his third son, died November 20, 1907. Eight children by his first wife survive him. They are John, Edward, Emmett, Mrs. William T. Murray, Mrs. Howard Austin, Mrs. Ward Clay all of Kansas City, and Mrs. Robert Salembier of New York City. The children by his second wife are Francis Lee, Richard, Robert, Virginia, Harriet and Bernard. Bernard, the youngest is 3 years old. Mr. Corrigan was one of Twelve children. Two sisters and one brother are still living. The are Mrs. John Burke, Miss Ellen Corrigan and Edward Corrigan, noted as a turfman.
THE FUNERAL FRIDAY MORNING
Nephews of the Dead Capitalist Will Act as Pallbearers
Funeral services for Mr. Corrigan will be held at 9:30 o’clock Friday Morning at the Cathedral, Eleventh Street and Broadway. The active pallbearers, who are nephews of Mr. Corrigan, will be John Carroll, Charles Carroll, John Halpin, Hames Halpin, Patrick Dunne, Frank Dwyer, Jay Tachudy and J. Burke. The honorary pallbearers will be E.F. Swinney, J.F. Richards, James A. Reed, W.S. Wowherd, R.J. Ingraham, F.B. Heath, Frank J. Dean, Thomas A. Till, Hal Gaylord, Judge James Ellison, Judge C.E. Moss, Thomas Phillips, C. W. Armour, C.J. Cronin, Charles S. Keith, T.T. Crittenden and Thoas McGee.