Some sections of Midtown Kansas City have barely changed since they were built. Others, like the 4900 blocks of Central and Wornall, have been completely transformed. The entry-level bungalows and small homes built there at the turn of the century have been replaced by the luxury Residences of Kirkwood, a 10-acre private community just above the Country Club Plaza.
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 the block
bounded by Wornall and Central from 49th to 50th Streets. (Many people seem confused by the tax assessment photos, which all include a man holding a sign. Here’s the story behind them).
The website for the Residences of Kirkwood offers some of the history of the block. It says the area, known for its towering limestone bluff, was part of an 80-acre parcel early settler Daniel Yoacham bought in the 1830s. It was near a 300-year-old tree at Central and Ward Parkway where travelers on the Santa Fe Trail stopped to fill water barrels and rest.
Early owners, according to the Kirkwood site, included the Malvina Lindsay family, who had a home and orchard where the Residences of Kirkwood stand today.
As development began south of Brush Creek after the turn of the 20th century, the block became home to a number of small residences, mainly along Central Street, as seen in the slideshow below.
On W. 50th street between Central and Wornall stood this row of homes in 1940.
The character of the neighborhood changed dramatically after the Country Club Plaza began to take shape just down the hill in 1922. Over the years, the homes, like many in Midtown, were broken up into apartments or served as investment rental properties. Later, the Nichols Company, hoping to redevelop the site, bought up properties. Neighbors objected to density and building heights, and the real estate market conspired against redevelopment. But by the time DST Realty announced plans for a $105 million “residential neighborhood” called Kirkwood, Nichols had cleared most of the homes to prepare the area for redevelopment.
We’d like to hear what you remember about these blocks.
Do you have memories or more details about this block 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.