Pete's Cabins and Meeting Hall, Heartland Presbyterian Center, Parkville, Missouri


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Description: The Heartland Presbyterian Center is a 320 acre, heavily-forested conference and summer camping retreat located on the outskirts of Kansas City, Missouri. Founded in 1958, it is well known in the local business, non-profit and church communities for the quality of facilities, programs and outdoor experiences.

Pete's Cabins and Meeting Hall, named after a long-time camp director Pete Rasmussen, was built to replace the old and deteriorating cabins used for summer season youth campers, and also to provide more comfortable quarters for adult conference attendees in the off-season. The cabins are arranged as a pair of buildings (one for boys and one for girls) each accommodating two large bunk rooms for ten, connected by long front porch.

Some creative planning was required to accommodate the flexibility and allow for staffing efficiencies. For instance, pocket doors were situated between each pair of bunk rooms allowing them to be open one to another - thus allowing each adjoining bunk room to be staffed with only one camp counselor. The bunk rooms are also planned so that they may convert to smaller quarters for conference attendees through the use of sound absorbent, retractable room dividers, separate entrance doors and bathrooms. And, although each unit is equipped with individual air conditioning units, careful window placement allows for cross ventilation to capture the cooler night air off the adjacent hillside during the summer months - thus maintaining the summer camping experience through the use of natural ventilation.

The long, front porch is terminated at both ends by a large outdoor gathering space - one for each cabin - so that outdoor programs and activities can occur even during raining days. Wide front stairs were created as places to sit as well as walk. At one end of the long front porch a future meeting hall building has been designed. This third building includes an entrance / lounge area (complete with indoor / outdoor fireplace and two accessible bathrooms), a meeting room which can be divided into two halves (one for each cabin), a warming kitchen which is also planned to be used by two difference parties at the same time, and its own large outdoor porch.

This three-building cluster was carefully arranged in a linear fashion along the edge of a hill facing a clearing and creek bed. This was done as a way of blending it with the landscape, creating an edge to the clearing that effectively becomes the front yard of the complex, and providing a transition to the forested hill beyond.

The design of the facility both inside and out is to evoke the memory of 19th and early 20th Century camp facilities - a blend of Adirondack style, Craftsman, and WPA State / National Park Service design tendencies. Warm brown tones, deep greens, with reddish and mustard yellow accents were used throughout, craftsman hardware, creatively designed "tree-trunk" porch columns, stained bead board ceilings, open eaves, exposed porch rafters and rustic furniture.

Pete's Cabins has been remarkably well-received facility by both campers and their families and conference / retreat goers alike. It is the most requested accommodation at the Center and is booked well in advance. Future fund-raising efforts will allow for the construction of a second pair of cabins and meeting hall on a nearby hillside.