What do a tobacco shop, an outhouse, a parlor, a saloon, and two inmates behind bars have in common? No, this isn’t the opening line to a joke. It’s all part of the you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it Old West Town décor of Jeff and Melissa Anthony’s basement.
Driving by the Anthonys’ traditional ranch style house in the quiet Town and Country Prairie Village subdivision, one would never guess that their basement is something straight out of a John Wayne movie. The Anthonys, who have lived in the house for six years, inherited the Wild West-themed basement from the previous owner, and knew as soon as they saw it that they had to have the house.
“It was a rainy Sunday afternoon, just after a Chiefs game, and my friend and realtor, Jim Handy, showed us the house on a whim,” says Jeff. “Our first thought when we saw the basement was, ‘We have to own this!’ We bought the house.”
The owner at the time, 90-year-old Bonnie Jandt, had spent years remodeling the basement to look like an Old West Town. “Our understanding is that her father was a big cowboy rancher and owned half of Wyoming!” says Jeff. “We also think that she was big into the American Royal.”
The main area of the basement is a saloon with Nell’s parlor adjacent to it. There is also a pool hall, candy shop, and painted prairie game area. A handyman named “Hoyt” is believed to have painted all the murals and décor, which includes a tobacco shop, two inmates in a jail cell, a horse drawn stagecoach, and an abundance of Wild West scenery. The names of the buildings and rooms all come from Bonnie’s friends and neighbors and the displayed pieces are from her father’s travels.
The Anthonys say they have done very little to the decor. “We added a few lights and antiques, but that was it,” says Melissa.
The Anthonys enjoy frequent entertaining, and the Western theme is not carried throughout the rest of the house which boasts a great kitchen
cook space, adult beverage area, and an open-air covered patio that can hold more than 100 people. They have taken advantage of the basement’s Old West Town decor with numerous barbecues and kids’ cowboys and Indians parties over the years. Guests have brought a few trinkets to augment the basement, and all have the same reaction when they first see it.
“The first thing people say when they first see it is ‘Oh my gosh—did you do this?’” laughs Melissa.
While there are many unique items in the basement, the Anthonys do have a favorite. And it has its own story.
“We love the original barber pole,” says Melissa. “It was actually mistakenly sold at the estate sale before we moved in. We were very upset, because that piece is such an integral part of the décor. The realtors got together, got the pole back, and fired the estate sale company!” The only future plans for the basement are to redo the floors to match the rooms.
“We love this house and plan to stay for a long time,” says Melissa. “It’s perfect for kids or adults and comfortable for family and guests. We always include on our invitations, ‘Ya’ll come back now, ya hear!’”