For the last five years, the operators of one of Kansas City’s most iconic landmarks have known the time was approaching to shut its doors for good, and now it’s cleaning house.
Memorabilia from the Benjamin Ranch in south Kansas City is going on the auction block. Everything from the ranch’s old, red stagecoach to loads of antiques and even some of the barn animals will be sold to the public at on Dec. 15, with a preview starting at 10 a.m.
And that will be the end. It’s slated to be the last event before the ranch is completely torn down by Jan. 1 to make room for the 4.5 million-square-foot Cerner Corp. office development that is set for development in 14 phases over the next 10 years at Interstate 435 and Bannister Road.
“I would be really, really sad, but I’ve had five years to prepare. I knew this was coming,” said Bob Faulkner, who with his family has leased and produced events at Benjamin Ranch for more than 25 years. Still, Faulkner said, “It’s somewhat of a shock when the day actually comes.”
The good news, Faulkner said, is that five years ago the family built another ranch in Raytown. He plans to carry on the legacy of western events in Kansas City at Faulkner’s Ranch on Raytown Road.
Benjamin Ranch has been in Kansas City more than 125 years. It started as a dairy farm built at the ranch’s current location — the 6400 block of East 87th Street — by Morris Benjamin, his brothers and other family members after they emigrated to Kansas City from Russia in 1885. Of course, back then, south Kansas City was all farmland.
Over the years the property has seen four different owners. In 1988 the Faulkner family, once in the western wear business, took over the operation. Faulkner said he was told even then that the place would likely be overtaken by development.
“But the area changed and the Bannister Mall area developed a negative stigma for crime,” Faulkner said. “We never had even one incident here, though.”
The Bannister expansion never came. The ranch, with its rodeo arena, horse race practice track and opera stage, continued to operate. In recent years the buildings were booked mostly for weddings and corporate picnics. As many as 450 events in one year, Faulkner said.
But those with the fondest memories of the ranch will most likely recall the July 4th rodeos, horseback riding and hayrides, said Christine Loneman, a member of the Faulkner family.
“We have touched the lives of thousands of people,” Faulkner said. “I think a lot of people will want to take home a piece of Kansas City history.”