Old Hyde Park Block Has Seen Many Changes Since Dr. Hunter’s Time

The Main Street edge of this block, like many major streetcar route streets, has long been a commercial block. The top row of pictures shows three of the commercial buildings that once shared the block with two homes. The bottom row shows the changes made over the years, as the needs of businesses changed.

I’m finding it hard to describe all the changes on this Old Hyde Park block in one overarching headline. The block is between Main Street and Grand Avenue, from 31st Terrace to 32nd Street, a little north of Costco. Just after 1900, the block was dominated by the home of prominent doctor D.W. Hunter, who was so well-known that people called Linwood Boulevard Hunter Avenue long after the name was officially changed. Later the block filled up with homes. A map from 1909-1950 shows more than a dozen lining E. 31st Street and another near=dozen on 31st Terrace (earlier known as Spring Street). In addition, the narrow stretch of Main Street began as a residential area; then transformed into a retail block as Main Street became a major streetcar route; and has again changed to meet the needs of today’s businesses.

 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 block from Main Street to Grand, 31st Terrace to 32nd  Streets.

D.W. Hunter’s Home Defined the Area Before 1900

A 1909-1950 map of the block shows more than two dozen homes fronting both 31st Street Terrace and 32nd Street.

Let’s begin with the man who once owned all this property and more to the south. Westport pioneer, Doctor D.W. Hunter, was the sole resident of the block in 1900. His farm spread from today’s Linwood Boulevard to around 30thand Main. His home stood back from Main Street at E. 32nd Street.

Linwood was originally named Pike Street in 1871 and soon afterwards became part of two major transportation routes: the Kansas City and Westport Horse Railroad Company and Kansas City and Westport Turnpike. By 1893, it was commonly called Hunter Avenue after Dr. Hunter. The name stuck like glue. The city council changed the name in 1905 to Thirty-Third Street, but street signs reading Hunter Avenue remained and street car conductors called out “Hunter Ave.” at the stop there. Kansas City residents finally made the change in 1926, when East Linwood Boulevard was extended from Gillham Road to Main Street and the name was changed to West Linwood.

The homes on the block

A map from 1909-1950 shows the block packed with residences and a set of photos from the 1940s show that they were still there that year, yet I couldn’t find much information about the people who lived on the block. Several homes appear to have been built before 1900, including Hunter’s in 1899 and one at 3132 Grand. In front of the Hunter home at 3137 Grand a large stone, 10-room house was offered for sale in 1899.

The slideshow below shows the homes on the block as they looked in 1940.

The businesses on the block

Top: A recent aerial photo of the block. Bottom: A 1907 map of the block (shaded in yellow) showing Dr. Hunter’s house in pink and the location of the present-day Costco and Home Depot stores.

Streetcar stops along Main Street brought many people to the block, and that in turn attracted businesses to the Main Street side. A grocery store was operating at 3133 Main from at least 1909 thorough 1914. At 3125, John O’Reilly ran a drug store in 1909. The building became an auto livery around 1920 and a grocery in 1929.

The Elko Camera store was by far the longest business resident. It occupied 3125-27 Main Street and in 1959, expanded to the south to occupy 3125-3131 Main. Beginning in the 1940s, Elko also ran a photo finishing company at 17-19 E. 31st Terrace.

 

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. 

 

One Comment

  1. Steve Paul says:

    Don’t miss the Hemingway connection on the other side of the street: Hemingway’s good friend Carl Edgar worked for the California Oil Burner Co., 3114 Main Street, in the period Hemingway worked at the KC Star, 1917-18.

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