Midwest Porcelain Art School was the “brain child” of Phyllis McElhinney. Phyllis had been involved with china painting schools ever since Inez McPherson started a school in a national guard armory in Kansas City in the early 1970s. When Phyllis became a director the following year, the school was moved to Rockhurst University where it was held for more than 30 years. It became a PPAA (Professional Porcelain Artists Association) school during this time and Phyllis recruited Betty Thomas, Peggy Adams, and Lorraine Brant as PPAA members and school directors. Rockhurst University indicated they could no longer accommodate the school and it was moved to a hotel in the north part of Kansas City which proved to be too expensive to operate and it was closed.

Phyllis was determined to find an affordable and acceptable location for the school saying, “We’ve always had a school in the Kansas City area, and we can’t give up now.” She contacted Peggy Adams and Betty Bell to work with her. They all agreed The Elms was the most desirable location, but feared it would be too expensive. But, you never know unless you ask!

The timing was perfect! The Elms was undergoing a rebuilding process and they were happy to accommodate our needs. It was a case of “they need us, and we need them.” It’s been a great working relationship ever since. For the past 15 years, we have been through many renovations and new ownerships with them. We no longer have the classrooms on the lower level since that is now a world-class spa. It seems we have had classes in every part of the property at one time or another. In the beginning, they even moved furniture out of suites to make spaces for our classes.

Now the hotel has undergone a complete renovation, at lease what they are allow to do since they are on the historic registry. They have a very full schedule of weekend weddings and must squeeze us in between. Thankfully they are willing to do that and we still have a great relationship with the best staff!

When Betty Bell moved to Florida, Sondra Landess took her place. Phyllis, Peggy, and Sondra have decided it is time to turn over leadership. We are so grateful that Lisette Shire, Vanessa Maze, and Regina Vandivier will keep this special school going.

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