Westport’s oldest settlers fiddled and danced at Little’s Hall

If you look closely at the leaded glass on the old Broadway Hardware building on Westport Road, you can make out the name “Little’s Hall.” The location was a popular spot in the early 1900s, hosting political events, dances and club meetings. Photo courtesy Google Maps 2017.

A careful observer of things in Midtown, Diane Capps, noticed the lettering on a window at 313 Westport Road and noticed the name “Little’s Hall” was embedded in the leaded glass. The first floor of the building is now used as an antique store, and the sign for a long-term tenant, the Broadway Hardware Company, is still there. Little’s Hall was probably the space on the second floor, still used for events.

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).  

Information about Little’s Hall is scant. The first mention in newspaper archives came in 1909, when the space was being used as a dance hall. Several clubs such as the Candle Light Club and Shawnee Camp No. 8136 met there in 1909 and 1910.

Perhaps the most interesting glimpse into Little’s Hall history came in 1911, when the Westport Improvement Association held its annual reception and ball there.  The event drew both old settlers and new residents of Westport, and the 800-1000 attendees crowded into the dancing space. In fact, it got so crowded that organizers opened up space across the street at Croner’s Hall, where another orchestra was playing.

The Dec. 31, 1911 Kansas City Star reported that some of Westport’s oldest residents were on hand.

When this 1940 tax photo was taken, 313 Westport Road had been used as a hardware store for at least a decade.

“W.M. Johnson was there, who has lived in Westport since he was 2 years old – and that was in 1847. And George Washington Vogel was there, 70 years old and born in Westport, which is reaching back pretty far. And Mayor Brown was there to lead the grand march; and the Watts Brothers, Stubbins and Dobson, to fiddle and show how Dan Tucker really danced in the days when that worthy fell in the fire and kicked up a chunk on that celebration occasion of tipsiness. And William Schmittner of the clarion voice was there to call the figures, and the McLeods to skirl the “hieland” pipes in the reels.

“And the McLeods, in full Scottish regalia – plaids, kilts, sporrans, bare knees and all – stepped to the front of the crown and paused long enough to inflate their bagpipes. The crowd gazed expectantly. It started to put its fingers to its ears. The pipe is a grand instrument, a braw instrument to be sure; but its martial skirling fitted rather to the banks and braes than to a comparatively small apartment.”

The final mention of Little’s Hall that I have found is a 1918 political meeting.

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. janet bost pickett says:

    I grew up at 3952 Central. I used to shop at the hardware store with my dad in the 50’s. Across the driveway next door this building was Westport Bank. I started my very first bank account there in 1963. I had an account there until the mid ’90’s.

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