Midtown has a number of distinctive streets: some characterized by their commercial importance; some for their grand residential apartment hotels; and some for their classical turn-of-the-century architecture.
Warwick Boulevard, clearly one of Midtown’s most important thoroughfares, played a unique role in Midtown’s development. Few other streets attracted the number of wealthy and well-known citizens. As they hired prominent architects to design new homes on Warwick from 1900 to 1915, their confidence in the area convinced others that the new “south side” suburbs were where Kansas City residential development was headed.
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. This week we’re focusing on a block from Warwick to McGee, from 43rd to 44th. (Many people seem confused by the tax assessment photos, which all include a man holding a sign. Here’s the story behind them).
A look at the early residents of one block of Warwick, from 43rd to 44th Streets and east to McGee offers a glimpse of its role in history. The block is on the local historic register along with other parts of the Southmoreland neighborhood.
A 1907 map shows the large tract of land owned by August Meyer just south of the block. His large mansion is now part of the Kansas City Art Institute. Meyer, president of the United States Zinc and Metal Company, was also the first president of the Kansas City park board. His close friend William Rockhill Nelson lived to the east on the site of today’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Joining them on the 4300 blocks of Warwick and Meyer were other city leaders:
- 4315 Warwick: George G. Wright, a land dealer and president of the Associated Land Company.
- 4325 Warwick: O. V. Wilson and his wife Ella were important business and charitable leaders and he was one of the founders of the Ryley-Wilson Grocery Company.
- 4320 McGee: John A. Sargent, vice-president Central Coal and Coke.
- 4328 McGee: Phillip P. Perry, music publisher.
- 4334 McGee: Orsen Hansford Swearingen city councilman in 1899 and a state representative from 1911-15.
- 206 E. 44th: Benjamin C. Christopher, founder of a grain dealership.
The slideshow below shows all of the homes on the block, each one distinctive and well-built, as they looked in 1940. Several of the homes are gone now, but the streetscape has remained relatively unchanged for more than a decade.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.