Homes Once Lined 39th Street West of Trafficway

Before it was a commercial strip, 39th Street between Summit and Roanoke was home to families who built new homes as Kansas City expanded to the south. Architect Louis Curtiss designed this house at 1020 W. 39th (seen here around 1980) for the Hugh Matthews family, who moved into the home sometime before 1910. The Matthews family had previously lived downtown at 16th and Jefferson. The house is no longer standing and the entire north side of 39th on this block has become a commercial area.

When you turn west on 39th Street from Southwest Trafficway these days, you pass a small shopping center and commercial buildings on your right as you drive toward State Line Road. One hundred years ago, that stretch of 39th Street from Summit to Roanoke looked much different. It had recently been developed as the Hamilton Hill subdivision, and Kansas City families had moved into a row of homes that fronted the now-commercial strip.

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). This week, the north side of 39th Street from Summit to Roanoke.  

The map, above, is from 1911, where W. 39th Street was lined with large homes and smaller bungalows. The aerial photo, below, shows the same area as it looks today.

By 1910, the north side of the block was filled in with large homes on substantial lots along with homes with less acreage. The 1910 census gives this picture of those who lived on the north side of 39th.

 1040 W. 39th: Hugh Matthews, shop machinist, 43; wife Nora, 42; daughter Mary, 13; son James, 11; son James, 8; servant Celia Meyer, 34.

1010 W. 39th: Peter E. Hatch, 52, attorney at law; wife Pearl, 40; daughter Gladys, 15; son Wendell, 4; servant Mazell Gardener, 19.

920 W. 39th: Harvey J. Wells, 63, chief clerk of NYC railroad; wife Ellan, 60; daughter Antoinette, 25; sister-in-law Antoinette Dickison, 50, a public school teacher.

918 W. 39th: Charles T. Prichard, 62, farmer; wife Rettie, 55; boarder Loyd Bradley, 10.

820 W. 39th: Eliza E. White, 86. Another household Saddie Neylon, nurse; Nellie Naylon, 35, private teacher.

828 W. 39th: Albert W. Lindquist, 37, Swedish Church minister; wife Daisy, 33; daughter Linnea, 9; son Carl, 7; son Paul, 4.

820 W. 39th: Nichols J. Briechel, 48, barber shop; son Earl L. Briechel, 19, office stenographer. Another household: Mrs. Mary E. Eckhard, 35, niece Dorothy, 9.

816 W. 39th: Daniel Lucitt, 71, retired; wife Bridget, 56; daughter Marguerite, 35; son Daniel, 33, railroad clerk; daughter Blanche, 30, public school teacher; daughter Hattie, 28.

Newspaper records don’t show much about the transformation of the block, but they do give some hints. A gas station was added at the corner of 39th and Roanoke by 1940. By 1949, one of the smaller homes on the block, a bungalow, was being advertised as an income property. Today, all the homes have been replaced by commercial structures.

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The photos below show 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.

 The book, Kansas City’s Historic Midtown Neighborhoods, is available now at local bookstores, on, or directly through me. (Email me to mjdraper@midtownKC post to purchase a copy for $24.68, which includes shipping and handling).



  1. Richard Stephens says:

    i lived at 828 West 39th Terrace from 1946 to 1960. There was a small street car we called the Dingy that ran along 39th at that time.

  2. Ethan Starr says:

    I’ve looked through the 1940 census photos of this block before, looking for a Louis Curtiss-designed house that was supposedly at the intersection of 39th and Roanoke Rd., but I hadn’t been able to find it. It’s not any of the photos included in this article, is it? I’m told that the carriage house was only recently torn down in the last couple decades. If it isn’t in the 1940 photos, are there any other snapshots of this property that might exist?

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