The heyday of the 4500 block of Warwick Boulevard lasted from the early 1900s to the 1940s, when the “old timers” moved on south to newer parts of Kansas City. For that time period, however, this block was home to captains of industry and their socialite wives. Even after they left, the street retained an air of “dignity and exclusiveness,” a newspaper reported in 1945, “perhaps because of its venerable trees.”
In the early 1900s, residents included the Stephen Veile family at 4500 Warwick, a home considered one of the most beautiful in the city.
At 4538 Warwick, real estate operator B.T. Whipple lived with his family. Whipple arrived in Kansas City in 1875 and with his brother, purchased the Mail, an evening paper they later sold to William Rockhill Nelson.
Nelson, by the way, lived just across Warwick in Oak Hall until he died and left the property as the home of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. August Meyer, best known as the first president of the Parks and Boulevard system, lived just to the north in his huge home, which later became part of the Kansas City Art Institute.
On the southern curve of Warwick at 4570 Warwick, W. B. Thayer of the Emery, Bird & Thayer dry goods company had his massive home, razed in 1955.
Like many wealthy Kansas City families, the residents of this block of Warwick moved south as Kansas City grew in the 1940s. As they did, the Kansas City Star in 1945 reported that most of the old-times had “drifted south,” with some of the old homes being replaced by apartment buildings.
“But the street manages to retain its venerable air of dignity and exclusiveness – perhaps chiefly because of its venerable trees. Those trees were planted personally by Peter Larson, now building superintendent of the Star, at the direction of Mr. Nelson, who footed the bill. Larson obtained the saplings, he said, from an assortment growing in the Shawnee Mission neighborhood and, when he planed them, built boxes around each tree to keep wandering cows from injuring them. Existence of the noble elms has checked more than one street-widening project on Warwick.”
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 51st Terrace to 52nd Street from Main to Brookside in the Countryside neighborhood. (Many people seem confused by the tax assessment photos, which all include a man holding a sign. Here’s the story behind them).
Do you remember this area? What special memories do you have of this section of Midtown? What questions do you have about it? Let us know and we’ll share your history and help to preserve it on our website as part of our Uncovering History project.Would you like us to focus on your block next week? Send us an email.
Our new 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. Order the book