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Inside an American Icon
By Kathleen Walls

J. C. Hall, the founder of Hallmark

It’s a quiet company but it has touched all of us at one time or another. Who hasn’t sent a greeting card to a loved one for a special occasion? Most likely some of the cards we chose were Hallmark Cards. Hallmark Cards are woven firmly into the fabric of our society but how often do we think of them as a “tourist attraction.” Yet not only do they offer a fun-for-all-ages attraction to visit when we travel to Kansas City, but it’s free! Gratis! No cost! You even leave with your own self-made souvenir bow.  

The Hallmark Visitors Center is located in Kansas City's Crown Center complex. Its colorful exhibits trace its history in 14 remarkable exhibits. And what a history it has! Hallmark Cards, Inc. will be celebrating its 100th birthday in 2010. It has grown with America and serves as a shining example that the America dream is not dead.  

1920s Display at Hallmark

This particular dream began in 1910 when young J. C. Hall arrived in Kansas City to make his way in life. He had little money but he had a dream. A dream and a shoebox full of post cards. Who could have guessed that that little shoebox would one day expand into one of the largest greeting card companies in the world? 

The Timeline Exhibits portray a unique slice of Americana. Beginning with J. C. Hall’s world and following through all the events now taught as history. Here at the visitors center, you see this history as day-to-day life. Postcards, newspapers, signs and photos are displayed along with the Hallmark Cards of that decade.  

A Christmas card display at Hallmark

Along with the Timeline Exhibits, young and old alike will love The J. C. Hall Christmas Tree Collection with its whimsical and beautifully decorated trees. Closely related, the Keepsake Collection showcases the unique Christmas ornaments Hallmark began in 1973. This spurred an ornament collecting trend that continues to this day.


Visitors enjoy making a bow at Hallmark

For the more technical minded, the Card Production area will fascinate. Here you see how a card is created from start to finish. This is the location of the bow making machine where a visitor can make their own star bow to keep as a souvenir.

Maxine dispenses her famous attitude flavored
advice near the bow making machine

This just scratches the surface, you can watch former Hallmark TV commercials, laugh at the humorous Hallmark characters, admire the famous art used as a basis for some of the most memorable cards ever created, you’ll recognize your favorite show in one of the many Emmy winning Hallmark Hall of Fame presentations at the Emmy display and so much more. You can spend an enjoyable afternoon and not spend a penny. Where else can you find a bargain that is so much fun?

 Not only did J. C. Hall make his mark; that “mark” has become an American icon known and loved by all as the Hallmark Card.


For more about hallmark Visitors Center:

ADDRESS: 2450 Grand Blvd. Kansas City, MO 64108
PHONE: 816-274-3613

Provided by American Roads Travel Magazine - Visit American Roads Travel Magazine website.

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