Memorial tribute: Pioneer George Sedgewick and his block of Armour and Virginia

In 1940, this home on the block between Armour and 36th, Tracy to Virginia, proudly displayed an American flag. Before many of the homes were built, Kansas City pioneer George Sedgewick and his wife made their home at the corner of Armour and Virginia before platting the area as Sedgewick Place.

In 1940, this home on the block between Armour and 36th, Tracy to Virginia, proudly displayed an American flag. Before many of the homes were built, Kansas City pioneer George Sedgewick and his wife made their home at the corner of Armour and Virginia and later platted the area as Sedgewick Place.

sedgewick grave forest hill 1899A Midtown Memorial Day tribute goes to George Sedgewick, a Kansas City pioneer who lived at Armour and Virginia before his 20 acres were platted as Sedgewick Place. Like many pioneers, Sedgewick wasn’t born here, but he was attracted to the growing railroad hub and potential for Kansas City’s growth. When Sedgewick, born in 1823, was buried in his adopted hometown in Forest Hill cemetery, he had become a part of the legacy of Midtown’s development.

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).  Today’s focus is the block from Tracy to Virginia, from Armour Boulevard to W. 36th Street.

Railroads brought Kansas City pioneer to town

Many of Kansas City’s pioneers followed the promise of Kansas City’s thriving railroad industry to town, and George Sedgewick was no exception. Sedgewick was from a prominent Scottish-English family back east, but after being orphaned at an early age, went to live with an uncle in Pennsylvania.  Starting out in the railroad business there, he came to Kansas City as an agent and then superintendent for the Kansas Pacific Railroad Company (which became the Union Pacific). He later formed a partnership with Edward Phillips to furnish ties to the railroads.

Like many early arrivals to Kansas City, Sedgewick purchased a large plot of land, in his case twenty acres at what was then the outskirts of town. He and his wife built a “commodious and fine residence at the corner of Virginia and Armour.” After George’s death, historian Carrie Westlake Whitney wrote of the home then occupied by Nannie Sedgewick in the book Kansas City: Its History and Its People 1808-1908:

 She also has two blocks on Armour Boulevard and building lots on Virginia Street and the Paseo. Her realty also embraces several fine residences elsewhere in the city, from which she derives a good rental. In her house she has a very fine library and beautiful paintings and other works of art, which indicate a refined and cultured taste. She also has many relics of early pioneer days in Kansas City.

Those relics included the old dining table and several chairs from the Gillis House hotel.

The block fills in in early 1900s

The Sedgewick property in 1891, when other land around their had begun to be platted.

The Sedgewick property in 1891, when other large tracts around theirs had begun to be platted.

The Sedgewicks later sold off some of their property, and the block of Tracy to Virginia began to fill in with homes a few years after 1900. Although several of the 1940s photos of the block have been lost, those that remain shows the homes as they looked that year.

 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 mjdraper@midtownkcpost.com. 

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