Coleman Highlands: “Like a trip to a park”


Among Midtown’s historic neighborhoods, Coleman Highlands is maybe the most unique for what it lacks – anything other than houses. Since it was platted in 1907, Coleman has been exclusively a neighborhood of homes, tucked away from residential business and heavy traffic, the kind of oasis its developers pictured.

The 80-acre parcel that eventually became Coleman Highlands changed hands a few times before it became the Coleman farm in 1869.  A map from 1887 shows one home in the northwest corner of the property. In 1905, the Parks Department acquired the curving Karnes Boulevard, grading and paving it and building stone retaining walls. That set the stage for the Coleman family heirs to subdivide it into 293 lots.

coleman-mapDevelopers immediately saw the attraction. Coleman Highlands had what potential homeowners of those days wanted: fresh air and cool breezes up on the bluff. It was located near streetcar lines. As they laid out the lots, developers followed the popular practice of the day, using the natural topography to suggest the layout, and promising in a 1910 advertisement in the Kansas City Star that “every street in Coleman Highlands will be finished like a boulevard.”

J.J. Swofford and Company advertised:

“A trip to this beautiful residential district is like a trip to a park. In fact, Penn Valley, Coleman Highlands and Roanoke Park form a chain of drives and parkways unexcelled in Kansas City. $100,000 has been spent in the improvement of Coleman Highlands; every natural beauty of the ground has been preserved, and the many artistic homes already built in the subdivision insure to the home buyer permanency of value and beauty of surroundings.

Coleman was built as a middle class suburb. Its original deed restrictions limited the building of anything other than single family homes, and the restriction has continued until the present time. It attracted business owners, doctors, salesmen and teachers, with most of the home built between 1908 and World War I, and in a second wave between WW I and WW II.  The neighborhood is recognized as a historic district for its architecture and as one of the middle class suburbs built during the first decade of the 20th century.



  1. Sonya says:

    Thanks for the great writeup about my neighborhood! “Every street finished like a boulevard”, eh? Well, I’m not sure THAT happened, but we certainly do have a beautiful neighborhood. I wouldn’t live anywhere else in this city 🙂

  2. Thank you for publishing this article about Coleman Highlands. We have been a well-kept secret for many years. People always act surprised to learn of our community and then the cohesiveness in our eclectic blend of neighbors.

  3. Jill says:

    Delightful article; lovely and distinctive neighborhood!

  4. George says:

    I have always been impressed with the care and upkeep with which residents of Coleman Highlands maintain their properties, creating a peaceful, idyllic, and envious neighborhood.
    Now, for just a moment, picture the SE block of W 33rd St and Southwest Tfwy with a QuickTrip occupying the current greenspace…

  5. scott busch says:

    This diverse neighborhood is also very cohesive in so many ways – as we look out, look forward and help out each other given the opportunity.

  6. Ann E. Borders says:

    Wonderful research in this article and an important subject–neighb! Thank you! Ann E.

  7. Tura Campanella Cook says:

    I grew up in the house pictured on the right at the top of the article, yellow with dark red trim. My parents owned 3414 Karnes Blvd. from 1953 until 2002. I live out of state now and was sad to see it sold, but the new owner clearly loves the property and neighborhood. When the house was emptied for the sale, I was struck by the dramatic beauty of the architecture itself. The main rooms had windows on three sides, even two closets had windows! I was very aware of the natural light, fine woodwork and stucco. By today’s standards the house is pretty small, but it was a castle to me and my friends.

  8. Anee Deiter/Johnston says:

    I lived at 925 west 33rd terrace, from 7th grade thru High School. Westport High, my younger sisters lived there a lot longer,when both my parents had passed. The house, got sold, I have very strong memories and experiences from that time! And never go to k.c. without revisiting my old house and neighborhood! Thank’s for this article! Yours, Anee Johnston

  9. Anee Deiter/Johnston says:

    What’s awaiting moderation???

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