For 40 years, David Polivka not only survived but thrived building furniture by hand in the age of Ikea. His client list read like a Who’s Who of Kansas City — Hall, Ward, Tivol, Kemper.
In 1995, he crafted the interior of power couple Charles and Patty Garney’s Briarcliff mansion. Patty, a civic leader, threw big fundraising parties that gave countless locals a glimpse of Polivka’s art: gleaming curved paneling, carved newel posts, stately bookcases and secret doors. (The home was destroyed by fire, possibly electrical, two years ago.)
Polivka LLC, inside the former Wells Fargo stagecoach station on Third Street under the Broadway Bridge, had 10 full-time, full-benefits employees when the economy collapsed in 2008. Over the next four years, Polivka had to lay them all off, one by one.