The block of Midtown that is today’s focus has always been a mystery to one of our readers. “On the NW corner of 35th Terrace and Genessee is a nice, solid red brick four-unit apartment building,” Diane Capps wrote. “Near the top, on the front of the building is a limestone slab that is engraved with W.P. CHERRY BLOCK. I’ve always wondered about that!”
It is a short block with only a handful of buildings, laying between State Line Road and Roanoke Park. In addition to the red apartment building, the block holds a row of four bungalows also on Genessee and a single small home fronting Bell Street.
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. (Many people seem confused by the tax assessment photos, which all include a man holding a sign. Here’s the story behind them). This week, we tackle the block between Genessee and Bell and between 35th Street and 35th Terrace (previously known as Christine Street).
Who was W.P. Cherry and why was this his block?
The best evidence for why the apartment bore the name W.P. Cherry lies in the ownership records of the block. Sometime before 1907, a prominent businessman named William Prather Cherry came to own the entire block and the one just to the west.
Cherry, who lived from 1854 to 1921, came to Kansas City from Carthage, Illinois with his wife, the former Emma Grigsby. Associated first with the Lombard Investment Company, W.P. became owner of the Foster-Cherry Live Stock Commission, selling cattle and hogs in Kansas City’s booming stockyards. Cherry later formed a new company called Cherry-Tilden Live Stock in 1903, when the Kansas City Star called both Tilden and Cherry, “men of means, ability, and influence.” When Cherry died, he was secretary of the Pioneer Trust Company.
There are no records showing the Cherry family, which included Emma and two daughters, ever living at the 35th and Genessee location. They appear to have lived at 29th and Prospect in 1907 and on Benton in 1910. Cherry and his wife, however, were active in real estate, buying and selling a number of properties in Kansas City between the mid-1850s and 1895.
As far as the people who moved into W.P. Cherry’s block after it was developed, newspapers of the day give us little insight. However, there is one tidbit of history: at 3504 Genessee in 1930, 27 different breeds of pigeon – both “fancies and utilities” – were for sale.The slideshow below shows the other homes on the block as they looked in 1940.
The slideshow below shows the other homes on the block as they looked in 1940.
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.