Although many of their homes don’t survive, the turn-of-the-century residents of Armour Boulevard included many civic and business leaders of the early 1900s.
In 1902, builder E.H.L. Thompson of the firm Pratt and Thompson planned to build a large home at 630 E. Armour. Plans announced called for a hall, big dining room, billiard room, kitchen, butler’s pantry and servants’ dining room on the first floor, and five bedrooms and bathrooms on the second floor. The attic was to contain a ballroom and four additional bedrooms. The home is gone now and a parking lot stands on the site.
Next door at 640 E. Armour, philanthropist and president of the Niles & Moser Cigar Company had another grand home, also taken down to make way for the Armour Tower Apartments around 1960. While he was known as a businessman in his day, Niles and his wife Emma are better remembered for donating land and building a mansion on East 23rd Street in 1924 to house homeless children. The organization that ran the home evolved into the Niles Home for Children.
The rest of the block from 34th to Armour, from Kenwood to Holmes
In the first decade of the 20th century, Armour was dominated by these large mansions owned by wealthy and well-known Kansas Citians. Beginning in the 1920s, many of the homes were replaced by large luxury apartments, meeting a demand for a new style of living.
But the majority of buildings on the block were built for families in the early 1900s. The earliest residents included, in addition to Niles and Thompson, Dr. John N.J. Pettijohn at 3416 Holmes. He served as chief surgeon for the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway Company.
The 1920 census for the block shows most residents owned their homes, although a few rented. Most were families with several children and often extended family members living in the homes. While families living in the fancier homes on Armour had servants, live-in help was less common in the homes at the north end of the block.
- 3400 Holmes: Frederick Andrews owned the home, He was an investment salesman. He lived there with his wife, Carrie, daughters Catherine and LucyAllen; and step-mother Lavinia Curry.
- 3404 Holmes: Lewis G. Aines, who worked in a dairy, owned this home with his wife Martha, son Carroll, daughter Virginia, and roomers Marquerite Landrum and Sarah Wymore, both stenographers.
- 3408 Holmes: Charles Burrus owned this home where he lived with his wife Jessie, daughter Ruth and a servant named Anna Smith.
- 3412 Holmes: John F. Silver, a locomotive engineer, owned this home with his wife Mary, daughters Ruth and Mary, and sons John and William.
- 3416 Holmes: Widow Lucy Waggener owned this home, shared by daughters Winifred and Alberta and sons Charles and Denton as well as Lucy’s father Amon Vernon.
- 3420 Holmes: Ormond Kroh, an investment lender, owned this home with wife Bess and daughter Shirley.
- 3422 Holmes: Leonard J. Woodhouse, a grain commissioner, owned this home. He lived here with his wife Nora, daughters Mary, Elizabeth and Caroline, sons John and Charles, and father-in-law Howard Martin.
- 3424 Holmes: Furrier Max Kreitman owned this home with wife Gussie, daughter Ida, sons Bernie, Able and Meyer. Max was born in Russia and Gussie in Austria.
- 3401 Kenwood: Emily J. Kennedy, 64, rented this home with daughters Jessie, a teacher and Ida, a clerk; son John, a paint and varnish salesman; and two borders, J. Victor Chedister a teacher and William Walton, another paint and varnish salesman.
- 3405 Kenwood: Wilson S. Newberry, the manager of a rug company, lived here with his wife Florence.
- 3409 Kenwood: Fred J. WIllman and his wife Lizzie, German immigrants, owned this home and lived here lived here with their son Olga, the assistant cashier at a paint company and son George, a lithographer.
- 3411 Kenwood: Virgil McDaniel, the owner of a coal company, rented here with his wife Lillian and son Virgil.
- 3415 Kenwood: Clyde Cannefax, a stationary engineer, rented here with his wife Verna, son Warren, mother Josephine and sister Hattie Hunter, a practical nurse.
- 3419 Kenwood: Fred Witter, a cattle speculator, owned this home with his wife Bonn, daughters Anna, Georgie B. and Doris.
- 3421 Kenwood: Frances (or Francis) C. Lee, a railroad office clerk, owned this home with his wife Carrie. His cousin James C. shared their home.
- 3425 Kenwood: Naturalized Italian citizen Don Cibota, the manager of a produce company at the city market, owned this home with his wife Rose, sons Lawrence and Pete, daughters Katherine and Antoinette, and mother and father-in-law Antoinette and Pete Randazzo.
- 630 E. Armour was the home of building contractor E.H. Leo Thompson. He lived with his wife Cornelia, two sons Mason and L. Bernard, daughter Anna, a two servants, Lillie Gerkin and Katie Tuey from Ireland.
- 640 E. Armour: Frank C. Niles, a cigar wholesaler, owned this home with his wife Emma. Sharing the home were a nephew John S. Niles, and two servants, Jess and Frella McCollough.
The photos in the slideshow below show the block as it looked in 1940. Several of the photos are missing.
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 email@example.com.
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, 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).
This week, the block from 34th to Armour and from Kenwood to Holmes in North Hyde Park is our focus.