A 1930s snapshot of one Midtown block highlights its transformation from a neighborhood of working-class families to a commercial corridor along a major traffic route.
As part of our Uncovering History Project, the Midtown KC Post is taking a look at each block in Midtown, including a set of 1940 tax assessment photos which is available for many blocks. Although those photos are NOT available for this block, other historical records offer a glimpse of how the block has changed from the 1930s to today.
The first newspaper report of the block shows its more rural nature in 1904, when Robert L. White of 4400 Madison asked for help locating a colt that had escaped from his property there. Later that decade, records show the family of Jacob Alexander Wagner, a Russian immigrant who worked a woodworker at the Rust Sash and Door Company, settled at 4418 Madison. And a seven-room cottage, similar to those which would later line Belleview and Madison Avenues, was advertised for sale in 1909 for $2740.
The 1920 census: a solid working class neighborhood
By the time the 1920 census was recorded, the block had filled in with more of those cottages, filled with families who rented or owned their properties. Several carpenters, electricians, a butter maker, and a shoe repair man were among household heads that year. Most lived with their wives and children; often with extended families sharing the modest homes. Here’s who the 1920 census shows living on the block:
- 921 Thomas H. Smith, a doctor, rented this home with his wife Anna, son, son-in-law, daughter, and grandson.
- 919 Chauncey A. Spaulding, who ran in a retail grocery in the building, rented here with his wife Katie.
- 915 Edmund Eade, a shoe repair man, rented this home with his wife Melissa and a boarder.
- 4400 Fred Grauberger, a shoemaker born in Russia, owned this home where he lived with his wife, Mary, 2 sons and a daughter.
- 4402 Owen B. Wylie, a mail carrier, rented with this home with wife Nettie and daughter Dorothy.
- 4406 Levi Pennington, an engineer, owned this home with his wife Mary and son Chester.
- 4408 Bart Tabun, a house carpenter, rented here with his wife Eva. Luther Tull, a house painter, also lived here with his wife Katie and daughter Mildred.
- 4110 William Robinson, a house carpenter, owned this home with his wife Effie, son, and father-in-law.
- 4414 Harry Othick, an office worker, lived here with his wife Grace, two sons and sister, father-in-law, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law.
- 4420 Charley F. Gordon, who was in real estate, owed this home with his wife, son-in-law, daughter, and two sons.
- 4426 Sara Ogden owned this home, shared with her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
- 4430 Arvid E. Ostlin, a powerhouse fireman, rented this home with his wife, two sons, father-in-law, mother-in-law and sister-in-law.
- 4444 Charles E. Smith, a mail carrier, owned this home with his wife, son and one boarder.
- 4448 Lewis Lilovitch, a Russian immigrant and druggist, rented this home with his wife Mary, son, daughter, and brother-in-law.
- 908 Francis W. Hanson, a shop worker, owned this house and lived with his wife Anna and daughter Francis.
- 910 Joseph Erwin, who worked in a butter factory, rented here with his wife Kathline and two sons.
- 4447 Clarence Hopkins, a hardware shipping clerk, rented this home with his wife Josie, a son, a daughter and a boarder.
- Albert Wolf, an electric salesman, owned this home with his wife Helena, a cousin and a niece.
- 4443 William E. Evans, an electrical contractor, owned this home with his wife Mabel and daughter Hattie.
4439 Oliver Johnson, a railroad inspector, owned this home with his wife Mary and daughter Edna.
- 4435 Theodore Fitschen, a baker, owned this home with his wife Lydia.Warren C. Wade, a stock keeper, rented this home with his wife Fairy and three daughters.
- 4429 William Vancleave, a hotel clerk, rented this home with his wife Margaret, two sons and a daughter.
- 4427 James A. Hoyt, a shop electrician, owned this home with his wife Edna, and two daughters.
- 4425 Charles C. Albecker, a salesman, rented here with his wife Kate, a son and a boarder.
- 4421 Charles E. Krines, a shop electrician, owned here with his wife Beatrice.
- 4419 Allen L. Sissom, a butter wagon salesman, owned this home where he lived with his wife Sadia and daughter Madeline.
- 4415 Max Gunninger, a railroad car repairman, owned this home with his wife Mary and daughter Mary and stepson Joe Geier.
- 4411 Albert G. Nelson, a meat cutter, owned this home his wife Nellie, two sons, two nieces, a nephew and a boarder.
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.