Westwood Park homes offered fireplaces, garages, and rec rooms

Small but modern homes close to the Country Club Plaza made for modern living in the early 1930s, as this block of Westwood Park filled in. This photo was taken in 1940.

Many of the homes on this Westwood Park block, between Liberty and Terrace from W. 48th to W. 49th, were new in the early 1930s. They offered all the comforts many Midtown families sought; newspaper ads to rent or sell the modest bungalows often boasted of fireplaces, garages and recreation rooms.

A recent Google map of the block, tucked in between the state line and the Plaza.

Reader Julie Gardner says her grandmother, Helen Shay Martin Lynn, lived on Terrace Street when Julie was growing up, and she has fond memories of visiting the neighborhood just west of the Country Club Plaza.

According to census records and newspaper reports from 1900 to 1950, the adults on the block had most often been born in the United States, and the men worked as traveling salesmen, grocers and bookkeepers, among other jobs. There were two public librarians, and adult unmarried daughters and sisters sometimes worked as stenographers. Household servants were becoming less common across Midtown, but there were still several this block in the 1930s and 1940s.

 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 bounded by Liberty and Terrace, between W. 48th and West 49 Streets. 

On the sloping streets of this block, “modern” bungalows and English-style homes began popping up at the tail end of the 1920s. The properties were advertised for rent or sale, but always touted as the latest in comfortable middle-class living. An ad for the bungalow at 4827 Liberty in 1929 offered 5 rooms, a breakfast room and sleeping porch, lots of closets and cupboards, and a garage. Although the home was “priced right,” the sellers emphasized that it was also “built right.”

What followed was a steady stream of families, mostly with young children. Here’s what 1930 and 1940 census records tell us:

  • A 1935 newspaper ad for two homes on the block, 4830 and 4834 Terrace.

    4800 Terrace: One of the first families to move in was Charles Ragland, 61, who ran an auto parking station, helped out by his 25-year-old son Herbert. Ragland also had a wife named Nellie and a daughter, Charline, who worked as a stenographer in a dry goods store. By 1940, the family of construction contractor William Swinney had moved in.

  • 4804 Terrace: Most of the adults who were moving in had been born on American soil, although Evan F. Williams, 63, was born in England When he moved in in 1930, he was working as a produce company cashier. The family included wife Maud, 61; daughter Ruth, 29, a clerk in a Unity Science School; daughter Elizabeth, 21, also a Unity Science School clerk; son Francis, 17; daughter Cathryn, 16. A decade later, electric company credit clerk Harold A. McWilliams, 33, had moved in with wife Thelma, 27; daughter Joanne, 5; and daughter Catricia, 3.
  • 4816 Terrace: The first mention of this home comes in 1940, when it was occupied by two public librarians, Alice Sullivan and Louise Letrack.
  • 4812 Terrace: William Ward, a grocer, lived here in 1940 with his wife Margaret.
  • 4816 Terrace: The Herbert Little family lived here in 1940, headed by a 40-year-old tire industry insurance engineer; the household included wife Dorothy, 40 and brother R.D., 25, a soda water salesman.
  • 4822 Terrace: In 1940, this was home to Carrie Ruppelius, 57, a legal secretary; her sister Edna, 49, a legal stenographer; and sister Carvinne, 45, a stenographer.
  • 4826 Terrace: Harry K. Nelson, a retail paint company salesman, moved in with his wife Wanita before 1940.
  • 4830 Terrace: James F. Tapp, 35, a traveling salesman, was renting this home in 1940 with his wife Ann, 34 and daughter Mary Ann, 11.
  • 4834 Terrace: H.J. Hall, 50, a highway teamster, rented in 1940.
  • 4835 Liberty: In the 1930s and 1940s, Elmer Hanson and family lived here. Hanson, born in Nebraska to Danish parents, was a grocery broker salesman; he shared the home with wife Ingomar and two sons.
  • 4831 Liberty: A grocery salesman, John Dickson, 39, lived here with his wife Minnie, 40, in 1930.
  • 4827 Liberty: A doctor named Gustane Roy, 29, was renting this home in 1940, along with his wife Gertrude, 27, three-year-old Ann and one-year-old Thomas Michael. The family had a servant, Etta Cotter, 61.
  • This 1909-1950 Sanborn map of the block shows the houses that were built on the block after the late 1920s.

    4823 Liberty: In 1930, another physician, Frank Coffee, rented this home with wife Margaret, 35; six-year-old Roy; and one-year-old Joanne. Coffee’s mother Mollie, 58, was a dance teacher and lived with the family. They had left by 1940, replaced by wholesale auto parts traveling salesman Carl Mattern, 36, his wife Florence, 39, and a two-year-old son, Charles Lee.

  • 4819 Liberty: In the late 1930s and in 1940, Summer Case, a wholesale coal credit company manager, lived here with his wife Mary.
  • 4815 Liberty: As other families moved in and out, the William Kuster family occupied this home from at least 1931 to 1946. Kuster, a wholesale sand buyer, was well-known as the president of a Kansas City bowling association. He lived with wife Jacqueline, a son named Robert, and a servant named Robert Nall who was 23 in 1940.
  • 4811 Liberty: This home was rented by Harold Testerman, a Coca Cola advertising manager, and his wife Jessie, active in a sorority for women in journalism, in 1940.
  • 4809 Liberty: Families moved in and out of this home in these two decades. In 1940, the residents were Fred Schular, 35, a druggist, and his wife Bernice.
  • 4805 Liberty: Osborn Stockton, 36, a furniture salesman, rented this home in 1930 with his  wife Lenore, 37 and mother R. Ella, 69. In 1940, Lester Webb, 47, an oil refinery traveling auditor, had moved in with his  wife Amy, 46; son Lester, 10; and Josephine Chandler, a servant.
  • 4801 Liberty: 1930 found Thomas Craig, 52, a jeweler, renting here with his wife Cassie.

The slides show below shows the rest of the homes 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. 


  1. Pat Schmidt says:

    My husband, Ed Schmidt, lived on Fairmount. He was born in 1932 and lived there until he went into the military in 1952. He was thrilled to see a couple of names that he was quite familiar with among the residents mentioned…….Fred Schular who owned a drugstore and Bill Ward who owned a grocery on Fairmount. Good memories for him!!

  2. Nan Meyerdirk says:

    Thank you Mary Jo. I really enjoy reading these posts and seein the pictures.

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