The northwest corner of Westport Road and Main Street is an important Midtown intersection. As such, businesses and institutions have always seen the benefit of locating there, at the intersection of two major streets and in the heart of residential neighborhoods. That has meant that the corner has seen a lot of changes over the years as it has been put to new uses again and again.
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 from Main Street to Baltimore, from West 39th Street to Westport Road. (Many people seem confused by the tax assessment photos, which all include a man holding a sign. Here’s the story behind them).
The block around 1900
This old map shows the block as it looked at the turn of the century, when it was less of a commercial corner than it is today. Several single-family homes filled up the corner of Westport Road and Baltimore, just down the block from the Allen Library.
The building with the circular room on the corner of Westport and Main was Morton’s Hall and Confectionary, something of a de facto country club for Kansas City back then. When Morton’s opened, Kansas City patrons and those from surrounding neighborhoods arrived in horse-drawn carriages for lunch, dinner, teas and wedding receptions. People also rode cable cars to “the end of the line” just to visit the confectionary, known for its ice cream and candy. The building later became the Jack O’Lantern, a popular dance hall.
The corner also housed three churches and the Miss Barstow Day and Home School. In 1926, Main Street was widened and straightened, eliminating the curve seen on the map.
One of the churches seen on this map is the Hyde Park Christian Church. Originally called the Westport Church, the church’s first home was a log structure on the Jacob Ragan farm near what is now the 3600 block of Holmes. The stone building at 12 Westport Road was built in 1905. The church moved to 3801 Wyandotte in 1956.
In 1912, as the church celebrated its 75th anniversary as a congregation, Rev. L.S. Cupp predicted then that within a decade, the church would be surrounded almost entirely by businesses establishments.
The block in 1940
Cupp was correct. And by 1940, many of the homes on the block had been replaced by businesses. At the corner of 39th and Main, those commercial concerns included the Deluxe Café, Tanker Super Gas, and Walker’s Good Foods. (A CVS store is now on that corner).
But those 1940s photos (see the rest of the buildings on the block in 1940 in the slideshow below) still included several older homes. One house at 3929 Baltimore that had been listed for sale as “modern in every particular” in 1899 still stood, but today the block has no houses, only businesses and the Redeemer Fellowship Church at 3921 Baltimore.
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. Order the book