In 1918, Mrs. Pensa Davis died in her home at 3820 Baltimore, in the neighborhood now known as Old Hyde Park. Mrs. Davis was the widow of Francis Napoleon Davis, an early Kansas City resident who bought a large tract of land. The Davis farm later became the Rockhill area. According to her obituary in 1918, Pensa Davis was one of Kansas City’s first teachers. “She came to Westport soon after the war to teach school, at a time when school teachers were almost unknown in the county.”
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).
A reader who owns the Visage Apartments at 3817-23 Baltimore asked us what we knew about that building and her block, and why the lot at 3821-23 is empty today. That lot is listed for sale in 1946 for $3950 as a building with four five-room apartments.
As the Sanborn Fire Insurance map from 1909-1950 shows (below), the east side of block was a mixture of small brick apartments with a few homes scattered in. The west side of the block had one large apartment at 3800 and several large homes on spacious lots.
larger map 3800 Baltimore map
In addition to Mrs. Davis, insurance and real estate man Frank Grove lived in a large house at 3838 Baltimore. He was described, at his death in 1940, as active in civic and social life in Kansas City, a member of the Kansas City Club and the university club and a graduate of Vanderbilt Law School.
One other notable piece of history happened in the 3816 Baltimore home of Mr. and Mrs. Riley. In 1940, Senator Warren G. Harding of Ohio, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, stayed with them while in town campaigning. Harding became President of the United States in 1921.
The slideshow below shows the 1940s tax photos of the block.
There’s still a lot more to learn. Do you remember this block? What special memories do you have of this section of Old Hyde Park? What questions do you have about it? Let us know and we’ll share your history and help to preserve it on our website.
Would you like us to focus on your block next week? Send us an email.
Our new 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
Photos courtesy Kansas City Public Library, Missouri Valley Special Collections.