How One Family Came to this Rockhill Block

Alfred and Grace Schauffler, a prominent Kansas City family, moved onto this Rockhill neighborhood block in the late 1920s. They lived at 4460 Rockhill Terrace until around 1945. Like many of their neighbors, they were active in Kansas City civic life and enjoyed the neighborhood of large homes built near the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.

As well-to-do Kansas Citians moved south in the 1920s, several settled on a newly-developed block of the Rockhill neighborhood, from roughly Rockhill Terrace south to 45th Street. One of these new families, Alfred and Grace Schauffler, moved in around 1928, joining their well-off neighbors as commercial and civic leaders.

All of the Rockhill neighborhood originally was part of Oak Hall, the estate of Kansas City Star co-founder William Rockhill Nelson.  Nelson, who also loved real estate development, began to lay out the neighborhood in 1903. But it was in the late 1920s that this block filled up with the substantial homes that still stand there today.

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. (Many people seem confused by the tax assessment photos, which all include a man holding a sign. Here’s the story behind them). Today, the Rockhill block from Rockhill Terrace south to 45th Street, and Gillham Road and Holmes Street east to Charlotte Street, including a section of Kenwood Avenue.

Civic Leaders Alfred and Grace Schauffler Move to Rockhill

Alfred and Grace Schauffler were typical of Rockhill residents of the block moving in during the late 1920s. Alfred first shows up as a young man in Kansas City society news in 1894, attending parties and being elected first vice president of the Society of Christian Endeavor. Grace was the niece of niece of Margaret Klock Armour, wife of S.B. Armour of the meat packing industry.

The two married in 1900 and went to live in Chihuahua, Mexico, then El Paso. In 1906, they came back to Kansas City, living for a while in the luxury Rochambeau Hotel at 3736 Broadway.

The family entertained, socialized and traveled; for example, Alfred and his wife spent the summer in Europe in 1924, sailing home from Southampton.

Alfred worked in the insurance industry. His wife was well-known in civic circles, taking an active part in charitable organizations, including being a member of the Women’s Christian Association, and helping the association build the Margaret Klock Armour Home for Aged Couples.

By the time they moved to Rockhill, son Harry had gone off to college at Williams College, Williamstown, Mass. And in 1930, according to census records, the family still had a servant, like many of their neighbors on the block.

Here’s what the 1930 census records show about the block that year:

  • 4460 Rockhill Terrace: Alfred T. Schauffler, 56, insurance salesman; wife Grace K., 58; servant Statia Sechter, 37.
  • 4470 Rockhill Terrace: Newton S. Wylder, 33, attorney; wife Ethel, 39; son Lawrence, 17; daughter Jane Ellen, 12; son John Mars, 10; aunt Ella McFadden, 73; servant Frances Stangel, 31, an Austrian immigrant.
  • 600 E. 45th: Mary Seested, 69, head; chauffer Charlie McCaw, 33; wife May, 27; servant Alma Kessler, 19.
  • 4511 Holmes: Walter T. Cross, 49, laboratory chemist; wife Anne, 45; daughter Annette, 12; brother Roy, 46, laboratory chemist; Mary F., sister-in-law; Hilda Berg, 55, servant.
  • 4501 Holmes: Raymond T. Demsey, 49, vice president of lumber company; wife May, 39; daughter Sallie, 13; mother-in-law Josephine Fullerton, 67; servant yard man, Milton White, 77; servant Ruth Anderson, 34.
  • 610 E. 45th: Harry F. Poindexter, 63, dry goods company president; wife Adele, 57; lodger Agnes Bryan, 36.

The slideshow below shows the 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 at local bookstores and on Amazon.com. 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. 

One Comment

  1. Mary M Arends says:

    My grandmother, Lillie M.Barrows, lived in the mansion of a Dr. Divilbis and his wife while she was doing an extensive interior decorating job there. Since I was only 4 or 5 at the time, I don’t remember the address – I just remember you could see the art gallery from their house.

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