Roanoke neighborhood nearly undisturbed by time


The fine old mansions of Midtown’s Roanoke neighborhood stand seemingly unchanged by time.

Roanoke, just west of Southwest Trafficway between 36th and 38th, was one of the first residential suburbs to be developed.

This section of Kansas City was once owned by Allen B.H. McGee, an early pioneer and Westport settler. McGee’s home was in the current Valentine neighborhood.

Then in 1887, McGee joined with other city leaders like Kersey Coates, Samuel Armour and T.B. Bullene to form the Kansas City Interstate Fair Company. They built and operated a fair on McGee’s property from 1882 to 1887. The fair was a popular destination for Kansas City residents, and featured a half-mile racetrack, concerts, and fireworks.

But after five years at the Roanoke site, the owners sold the property, which, because of a land boom and the demands of an expanding city, was worth 15 times the price they had paid for it.

Roanoke was immediately platted. It stood outside the city limits of either Kansas City or Westport.  Only a handful of large houses were built before 1900, but by 1907, the Kansas City Star was extolling its virtues.

roanoke-map-copy“On the outskirts of the city proper it is exclusively a residential section bounded on one side by Penn Valley Park and on the other by broad streets that furnish an outlet by streetcar lines to any part of the city. The intervening valley between the district and the city proper gives Roanoke a desired exclusiveness wholly unobtainable except in extreme suburban districts.”

From the beginning, the developers and residents of Roanoke decided it would be entirely residential – “ without flats, unhandsome architecture or the disconcerting contrast between a cheap home and a costly home.” Restrictions required houses to be of sufficient cost and on large lots.

To prevent undesirable growth and to protect property values, landowners donated land to create Roanoke Park.

Valentine Road, called by the Star in that article “the handsomest in Kansas City,” wound along the north boundary along a bluff, making a cliff drive with a view over the park.

A neighborhood association formed in 1921 and has been successful in keeping the homes “single family” even during times other Midtown residences were divided into several apartments.


  1. Rose says:

    Love the slide show

  2. Larry Bradshaw says:

    Desirable, lovely, elegant, artistic, delicious, fabulous, beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Jewell says:

    One of my favorite KC neighborhoods!

  4. Susie Motlagh says:

    OMG my old house is the 4th in the slide show – I would LOVE to be able to live in it again. I got married in that house about 48 years ago.

  5. Mike Smith says:

    I grew up close to there and had many friends in the neighborhood, including my wife, Kathy Hough, who grew up in the corner house at 38th & Belleview and one of my best friends, Tom Bousman who lived at 37th & Valentine Road.

  6. Cathie Chesen says:

    What a great write up! Thanks for sharing.

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