Downtown entrepreneur Dave Eames talks about family, gardens and business in the historic district

Dave Eames lives downtown, works downtown and volunteers his time with Downtown Lee's Summit Main Street. Since he and his wife moved their family to downtown Lee's Summit, the artist has committed much of his time sculpting awareness for Lee's Summit's historic residential and business district. Through a Q&A with Link 2 Lee's Summit, Mr. Eames offers his unique perspective on downtown Lee's Summit.

Link 2 Lee's Summit: How long have you lived in downtown Lee's Summit?

Mr. Eames: Me, my wife, Kelly, and our four kids moved to downtown LS in 2002. We are originally from Tulsa, Okla. We met at the University of Kansas. Kelly was hired as a teacher by LS R-7 and I followed her here!

Link 2 Lee's Summit: You and your family live in a historic downtown home. Tell us about it, it's history and why you and your wife chose to make it your home.

Mr. Eames: Our house was built in 1918. It was built for one of Lee's Summit first pharmacists, Dr. Spencer. Architecturally, It is a brick American Foursquare with Prairie-style details. We are very lucky to call it home. We knew walking up to the front door for the first time that this was home. The huge porch, giant black walnut tree and the beautiful woodwork inside was too hard to resist. We love our neighborhood just as much. Our house is in the Howard First Addition Historic District. Our neighborhood is filled with a diversity of houses, history, people and the railroad. I enjoy learning about all the people and events that have created our little corner of Lee's Summit. 

Link 2 Lee's Summit: Family atmosphere may not be the first thing that comes to someone's mind when they think about downtown Lee's Summit. How do you respond to that? Talk about living in the downtown neighborhoods and what the district has to offer for families and residents.

Mr. Eames: I think it is the first thing that we fell in love with. Walkable neighborhoods with services and schools close by are a time-tested template for strong communities. And, it is no different in downtown Lee's Summit. Sidewalks, slower traffic and parks encourage families to ride their bikes and walk to school. Ice cream, barbershops, parks, hardware store and lots of places to eat...most everything we need is a easy walk away. Plus, what an interesting physical environment to walk through. Beautiful old homes, sturdy downtown shops, railroad tracks, gritty alleys and lovely gardens and greenery. Now that our kids are older, I really miss walking them to and from school at Lee's Summit Elementary. They got to experience first hand a working, vibrant little downtown, filled with shops, businesses and friendly people. And, the delicious smell of Neighborhood Cafe in the morning!

Link 2 Lee's Summit: You and your wife are very involved with Downtown Lee's Summit Main Street, why did you choose this organization?

Mr. Eames: I believe it is important to take part in our communities and get involved. Volunteering and giving back is critical to happiness and pride. DTLSMS is a crucial voice for our downtown neighborhoods. Keeping the heart of our little city strong is a mission we can all support. So, Kelly and I and our kids have volunteered over the years to do our part, whether it is cleaning streets after an event, pouring beer at Downtown Days or giving our time on the Board of DTLSMS.

Link 2 Lee's Summit: You are a downtown business owner and entrepreneur, why is this an ideal location for entrepreneurs and veteran businesses alike? What makes the district an ideal place to locate your business?

Mr. Eames: When we moved to our downtown house, I dreamed of having a place downtown for my artist studio and workshop. Last year, the opportunity to own a building with our friends showed itself. Today, Fossil Forge Design is located in a historic building where I can meet clients, work on projects and, hopefully, add to the interesting mix of businesses. Downtown is great place for business because of the support network of businesses, organizations and people. 

Link 2 Lee's Summit: As both a business owner and DLSMS board member, what do you think are the district's biggest needs for sustained growth?

Mr. Eames: I am excited for additional housing coming to downtown. This means more people on the streets and in our businesses. Plus, more people can get involved with downtown, start their own business and fill the sidewalks with new energy. I would also love to see an arts incubator space, co-officing space, entrepeneural spark space and a Maker Space. Of course, more public art and a sculpture park would be amazing, too!

Link 2 Lee's Summit: Residential is a hot topic in downtown right now. What do you think the addition of multi-family housing can do for the district?

Mr. Eames: I love that more housing is coming. It is critical to the health and future of our downtown. The option to live in a compact, interesting, walkable and friendly downtown is desired. New residents, old, young and in between will add to the growing flavor of our town. Creating a strong sense of place, a place worth caring about, is important to me.

Link 2 Lee's Summit: Many people know of your garden and the Garden Walk you've organized in previous years. Talk to us about your garden and the purpose behind the Garden Walk.

Mr. Eames: When we moved to our downtown home, I had visions of making a special garden. I wanted to restore the landscape of what Lee's Summit looked like before settlement. Our area was a beautiful prairie, sprinkled with groves of walnut and bur oak trees. So, I set out to plant a diversity of tallgrass prairie plants in a setting the would encourage uncommon birds, butterflies and other animals to stop by or call it home. I added a small pond and waterfall for frogs and dragonflies. Finally, I have been adding sculpture and other art to the landscape for beauty and interest. 

GardenWalk was started in 2012. It is reflection of my Mom, who started a backyard habitat garden tour in her town many years ago. I wanted to show off the amazing gardens and outdoor spaces of downtown Lee's Summit. The tour started with five gardens and grew to nine gardens last year. In addition, we wanted to encourage visitors to explore the shops and restaurants nearby, too. The proceeds of the tour were donated to Downtown Lee's Summit Main Street, because of their dedication to making our community better. Unfortunately, the tour is not happening this summer. But, we hope to bring it back in the future. My garden and sculpture park are open to the public. Just contact me for a tour.