Census records from the 3700 block of Washington Street in the Valentine neighborhood show a pattern repeated across Kansas City. In the early 1900s, the owners shared these large homes with extended family members and servants. But by 1930, almost every family had given up its servants and had taken in one or several lodgers.
One example would be 3782 Washington, where livestock commissioner Thomas S. Moffett and his wife Louise lived in 1910, according to census records, with their two sons, a cook, coachman and nurse.
Thomas owned ranches in Kansas and Oklahoma. Louis’s father was the first lieutenant governor of Kansas. When Mr. Moffett died in 1930, Thomas and Louis were living alone in the home. Louise took control of the Moffett Livestock Commission and became the first woman member of the Kansas City Livestock Commission.
More about the 3700 block of Washington, west side
In May, we featured the 3600 and 3700 blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue, an area once owned by the A.B.H. McGee family. Today, we finish up the block with more details about the Washington Street section of the same block.
As part of our Uncovering History Project, the Midtown KC Post is taking a look at the 1940 tax assessment photos of each block in Midtown, including a set of 1940 tax assessment photos which is available for many blocks. (Many people seem confused by the tax assessment photos, which all include a man holding a sign. Here’s the story behind them).
Before the first decade of 1900, the land was owned by A.B.H. McGee, whose large and well-known home sat at 37th and Broadway. McGee’s daughter Nellie G. Nelson was an early owner of much of the property in the area.
Another early resident included another McGee, A.B.H. McGee Junior. His home at 3758 Washington was built on the site of the famous old barn that stood on the McGee homestead until 1897. It was described as being 80 feet long and 40 feet wide with two-foot thick walls, giving the impression of a fort. The families was said to bury silverware and other valuables their during the border war and Civil War.
In 1910, young McGee ran the Kansas City Packing Box Company. He lived in the home with his wife, three daughters, and two servants.
The McGee family’s neighbors were also extended families with servants, as shown in the 1910 census:
- 3712 Washington: Jerome Twitchell, a merchant; his wife Cora, son Jerome Jr., son Norman; sister-in-law Mrs. Keene Jackson and niece Margarita N. Jackson; and a border Mrs. George T. Deam.
- 3716 Washington: John A. Constock, a stove merchant; his wife Minerva and daughters Helen and Elizabeth, and Henna Persy, 21, a Swedish maid.
- 3744 Washington: Samuel J. Matticks, the manager of gas company; his wife Muriel and daughter Millisent; and servant Mannie McClelland.
- 3748 Washington: Sigmund Stulz, a liquor wholesaler; his wife Katherine, two sons and two daughters.
- 3752 Washington: Everett Riter, an oil producer and his wife Carrie.
- 3758 Washington: William S.T. Smith, a dentist; his wife Fannie and two sons,; William Preston, chauffeur, and Elizabeth Numink, a maid.
- 3766 Washington: William Peet of the Peet Brothers Manufacturing Company, a soap factory in Armourdale which became part of Colgate Palmolive; his wife Katherine, two sons, a daughter, and Lena Erwin, a servant.
- 3772 Washington: Lewis Andrews, a live stock merchant; his wife Elizabeth and niece Ethel Mott; and a servant named Anna Carlson.
- 3786 Washington: Eunice Gray lived with her son Ellis W. 20, a wire chief for a telephone company; and Luella M. Barton, a roomer.
- 3788 Washington: Elizabeth Fitzpatrick and her son James, who was in real estate; two other sons and a daughter, and sister Mary Whitney.
By 1930, servants are gone and lodgers have moved in
Reflecting the housing shortage and the diminished role of servants in most Kansas City families, the makeup of this section of Washington had changed 20 years later. Most of the families who had lived there in 1920 were gone. The 1930 census gives this glimpse of the new households:
- 3700 Washington: Families whose workers included a barber, a bookkeeper, a clerk, and real estate agent had moved into the apartments at the corner of Valentine and Washington.
- 3712 Washington: Silas Delay, a doctor, and his wife Louise.
- 3716 Washington: Warren Hooper, a dry goods buyer and his wife Mary shared their home with two lodgers.
- 3726 Washington: James E. Reede and his wife and two lodgers.
- 3732 Washington: Frank Horn, his wife Louisa and a lodger.
- 3740 Washington: Marcus Ford, a dramatic producer, his wife and son.
- 3744 Washington: Andrew Buchanan, his wife Joyce; their daughter, son-in-law and daughter; and another daughter.
- 3752 Washington: Elizabeth Coulter, and her two daughters who worked as a mail clerk and a stenographer, shared their home with five lodgers.
- 3758 Washington: J.L. Cornelson, a daughter and three lodgers.
- 3766 Washington: John Martin and sister Evelyn, mother Sarah Higgins; nephew, niece, and six lodgers.
- 3782 Washington: Thomas and Louis Moffett.
- 3786 Washington: Abner Lee, a railroad conductor, and his wife Isa, a son and a daughter.
- 3788 Washington: Alvin Randol, a real estate agent and his wife Fannie and four lodgers.
The slideshow below shows the block as it looked in 1940.
Historic photos courtesy Kansas City Public Library/Missouri Valley Special Collections.
Do you have memories or more details about this area of Midtown? Please share them with our readers. Would you like us to focus on your block next week? Send us an email.
Our book, Kansas City’s Historic Midtown Neighborhoods, is available now. Let us know if you want us to come to your neighborhood association or organization’s meeting to share what we’ve learned about Midtown neighborhood history and tell your members how they can help preserve Midtown history. If you’d like to order the book, email Mary Jo Draper at email@example.com.