Historic Squire Park home in search of a loving owner

The current owner, Joyce Miller, recently joined neighbors from Squire Park to clean up the property, hoping to attract a new owner.

Built of concrete in 1912 in what was the then wealthy suburb of Squire Park, Victor Beutner’s house was called “danger proof.”

A long pergola stretched from 39th Street to the entrance. Words on a stained glass window proclaimed in Latin: “Here Happiness Dwells; Nothing Evil Enters.”

Now danger is at the door.

The pergola and stained glass are long gone. The house is on the city dangerous building list and The Historic Kansas City Foundation lists it among the 10 most endangered historic structures.

The home said to be designed by flamboyant Kansas City architect Louis Curtiss is scheduled for sale Aug. 26 on the steps of the Jackson County courthouse.

The most recent owner, Joyce Miller, said she could neither sell it nor afford to fix.

“We figured somebody might want it, love it and fix it up,” she said. If no one buys it, the house goes to the new Kansas City Land Bank.

The former owner of the Beutner house, Mabel Page Lee (in the white dress), was a dress designer and ran for the Missouri House of Representatives.

Her aunt, Mabel Page Lee, lived in the house for years and it has been vacant since her death in 2007, Miller said.

Lee had no will and the house went to about 24 relatives, Miller said. She got the others to sign over title to her but it was still clouded by liens from years past.

The tax sale will wipe those out. Historic tax credits would be available for renovation.

“It was a beautiful place at one time,” Miller said.

Lee was a Republican activist who once ran for the Missouri House of Representatives. She was also a dress maker and seamstress for musicians like the Count Basie Band, Sarah Vaughn and Lula Reed, Miller said.

She sewed all her clothes by hand and even made her own buttons in that house, Miller said.

A 1912 article in the Kansas City Star said it was a house of largely reenforced concrete “that no storm could shake, nor fire harm…, a monolith of hardest stone, and even a lightening bolt could not injure it.”

But years of a leaking roof have done extensive damage to the inside, Miller said, and the house needs much work.

Squire Park neighbors recently helped Miller cut away brush from the yard and house, helping it look its best.

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