Before Penn Valley Community College was built, several hundred homes filled in the area between 31st and 33rd Streets, from Broadway to Southwest Trafficway.
In the late 1960s, communities across the United States formed community college districts, fueled by changes in society that seemed to call for retraining the workforce.
After considered several sites and much debate, trustees in Kansas City choose to build the Kansas City campus on a 27-acre site at 31st Street overlooking Penn Valley Park.
As land was cleared for the college, property was purchased from home and business owners. Jim Browne of Brown’s Deli, a local business that had been serving the neighborhood (and continues to do so) lamented in 1969 that within two years, 450 families were gone from the area.
Some home owners fought condemnation of their houses. Anastasia Rodarte wrote a letter to the editor of the Kansas City Star in 1968.
My husband has worked for 30 years for a company that will no longer be in operation after the end of the month. We are not young and I feel confident that we would not be able to pay out a mortgage on another home. The Junior college negotiators have offered us $12,000. Where in Kansas City can we buy another home of comparable value? After many months of searching we have yet to locate one. Our plight is not an isolated one. Many of our neighbors are already retirees, many are elderly and sick, and cannot meet the demands of moving.
There’s no doubt Penn Valley Community College has been an asset to Kansas City.
But this video will help us remember the families that lived in those lost homes of the Valentine neighborhood and preserve some of the history that was created there.
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). 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.