Manheim Park block attracted immigrants in 1920s

Small, well-built bungalows lined Forest Avenue and E. 44th Street on this Manheim Park block in the 1940s. Much of the block was developed around 1910, and by the 1920s, the homes were filled with families from Italy, Germany, Sweden, England and Scotland, living side-by-side with American-born residents.

When residents began moving into this Manheim Park block (from Troost to Forest between E. 43rdand E. 44th)  in the early 1900s, many were new immigrants to this country. The 1920 census shows people who had recently come from Scotland, England, Germany, Sweden, and Italy settling into homes along with others born in the United States. As the block filled in, the Forest Avenue Baptist Church bought land and slowly built on it, and the block got a grocery store and other businesses that served the surrounding areas.

A 1909-1950 Sanborn Fire Insurance map of the block.

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 Manheim Park block between 43rd and 44th Streets from Troost to Forest.

 The first records of homes of this block appear in 1906. They are advertisements for “modern cottages” finished in oak, with modern updates such as china closets, oak mantels and nickel plumbing.

The Forest Avenue Baptist Church, 1940.

In 1905, the Forest Avenue Baptist Church began with 16 charter members. The church bought the southwest corner of 43rdand Forest in 1908, and dedicated a church there in 1923. Six years later, construction began on an education building that would be completed in 1954. Church members celebrated paying off the mortgage in 1944.

The homes along Forest and E. 44th Street and two apartment buildings at the 43rd and Troost corner filled up. By 1920, the census shows the following residents of the block:

 4306 Forest: Robert O’Neil, 43, born in Scotland, a stock and bond salesman; wife Eva, 37, born in England; daughter Evelyn, 10; son Robert, 8.

4308 Forest: John T. Robert, 58, an ice plant stationary engineer; wife Alice, 31; daughter Francis, 4.

4310 Forest: Harvey L. Thompson, 58, a safe expert; wife Carrie, 49.

A recent aerial photo of the block, showing the homes that are still standing and the Forest Avenue Baptist Church.

4316 Forest: Patrick J. Walsh, 30, a railroad car repairer; wife Mary, 27; son Roger, 5; son John, 2. All were born in Ireland.

4318 Forest: Minnie Campbell, 48, born in England; mother Julia Wilson, 70; daughter Elizabeth Campbell, 11.

4322 Forest: Henry Harlamert, 50, a railroad switchman, born in Germany; wife Nettie, 43.

4324 Forest: Henry Norvell, 39, owner of a drug store; wife Maud, 38; son Phillip, 13; father-in-law Phillip Hill, 65, a retired farmer; mother-in-law Ida Hill, 63; boarder Walter M. Cooksey, 61, also a retired farmer.

4326 Forest: Oscar Erickson, 60, a cutlery shop grinder; wife Sophia, 60; sister-in-law Ethel Erickson, 28, a terminal company clerk; brother-in-law Carl Erickson, 26, a terminal company mail clerk; sister-in-law Laura Erickson, 24, a terminal company clerk. Another family shared the home: John W. Hallberg, 31, physician; wife Nina, 30; daughter Jean, 1. All were born in Sweden except one-year old Jean.

4330 Forest: Jessie King, 53, a produce house bookkeeper; daughter Adeline, 21, a automobile insurance policy writer; lodger Francis Updegruff, 23 , a colorist architect.

4332 Forest: Sidney Kieffer, 37, a wholesale drug pharmacist; wife Clara, 31; son Garrett, 8; cousin Earl, 27, a wholesale tobacco salesman.

4344 Forest: William Kopp, 24, a sporting goods company accountant; wife Althea, 24.

1128 E. 44th: Cora Krug, 58.

1124 E. 44th: Basgio Peri, 47, born in Italy, owner of a dance school; wife Beatrice, 32, born in Ireland; daughter Mary J., 5; son James, 9.

1120 E. 44th:  John W. Hall, 49, a biscuit company commercial traveler, born in Sweden; wife Bessie, 48, born in England; daughter Mary.

1116 E. 44th:  Salvatore Randazzo, 39, a jeweler, born in Italy; wife Theresa, 37, born in Italy; son Marco, 10.

1112 E. 44th: Joel Wells, 64, a railroad watchman; wife Kate, 59; son Guy, 27, a bakery truck driver; son Russell, 22, a streetcar conductor; grandchild Hazel Sharp, 9.

4339 Troost: George Booker, 59, a shoemaker; wife Emile, 38.

4337 Troost: Rocco Vennito, 51, a theater musician, born in Italy; wife Lillie, 38, born in Italy; son Erinimis, 15; son Albert, 12; daughter Gladys, 11.

4303 Troost: This apartment building was home to four families.

4301 Troost: Another apartment building that housed four families.

 The block was also home to a cluster of businesses at the corner of 44th and Troost. This was a popular site for a grocery store, with changing ownerships over the years. In the 1920s, the buildings housed the E.H. Stahl drugstore, Osthoff Pharmacy, a shoe repair shop and the Danzo market. In the 1930s, the Sunny Side Buffet moved in. In the 1940s, tenants included the Troostwood Market and Chicago Cleaners.

The slideshow below shows the rest of the buildings 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. 

 

4 Comments

  1. Joy Rush says:

    I spent my ‘wonderbread’ years on 44th Street. First, we lived in an apartment building at 1117 East 44th, then moved into a house across the street (in the discussed block) with the address of 1120 East 44th. While the family attended church at University Heights Christian (further south), I often went to Forest Avenue Baptist Church on days when the family couldn’t make it to our regular church. Going to vacation Bible school at FABC was a must, plus I was a member of the Girl’s Auxilary for several years. I attended Bancroft School K-7.

    I am still friends (via Facebook) with my best friend that lived at 1116 East 44th. We would go down to ‘Stan’s’ grocery store and spend our money on candy bars and often purchased fresh sliced bologna by Joe the butcher for lunch sandwiches along with Kitty Clover Potato Chips and Vess Soda to drink.

    It was a great place to grow up. And, yes, I have pictures!

  2. Judith Rauber says:

    I was raised in the KC Northland, but married a guy in 1959 from the “East Side” of KC, i.e. 26th & Elmwood………..can you do a HISTORY on the East Side of KC?

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