Female Architect Left Her Stamp On This Countryside Block

Although there were few female architects at the time, Alice Jackson designed and built three of the homes on this Countryside block in the 1910s. Jackson designed a total of about twenty residences in Kansas City, mostly south of the Plaza but also in Coleman Highlands and Sunset Hill. This home at 248 W. 53rd Terrace was built for Earnest C. Winters in 1917.

Built when well-off residents of Kansas City were moving south of the Plaza and located right next to Loose Park, it is no surprise that this Countryside neighborhood block was built by prominent architects and attracted prominent families. The block from Wornall to Wyandotte between W. 54rd Street and W. 53rd Terrace is part of the Simpson-Yeomans/Country Side Historic District and is on both the national and local historic registers. It includes, as well, three homes designed by Alice Jackson, a female architect working at a time when most in her profession were men.

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 Countryside block from Wornall to Wyandotte between 53rd Street and 53rd Terrace).

Historic District Retains Original Flavor

A 1917 Sanborn Fire Insurance map of the block.

Simpson-Yeomans/Countryside Historic District, generally located between West 51st Terrace and West 54th Street, from Wyandotte to Wornall Road, “has retained its integrity and it provides an undisturbed glimpse of an earlier era of Kansas City’s residential neighborhoods,” according to the National Register nomination. (read the nomination)

Today’s block lies within the district. The earliest homes on this block were built between 1914 and 1917. The first to be completed was the home of Robert E. McDonnell, one of the founders of the Burns and McDonnell engineering firm. His home at 200 W. 53rd Terrace was built by Owens and Payson in 1914.

The following year, 1915, saw the addition of three homes. Widow Minnie Robertson and her widowed cousin June Barber moved into their new residence at 221 W. 53rd Street. Next door, Willard Hovey’s family took possession of a house designed by Shepard & Belcher. On the other side of Robertson, at 235 W. 53rd, lawyer and prominent Republican leader Reginald Brewster moved in with his family.

Early Female Architect Adds Her Stamp

Few women were trained as architects during this building period, but that didn’t stop Alice Jackson. She was born in a suburb of Chicago in 1863 and showed an early interest in designing and building. She then married a man who was in the lumber business and built several homes in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Later, she and her husband moved to Kansas City, where she designed twenty homes. Three of them are on this block, at 221 W. 53rd, 201 W. 53rd, and 248 W. 53rd Terrace.

The slideshow 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. 


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