More Midtown history: Jewish life, millionaires on Troost, early Rockhill

center cityAs the New Year rolls around, we’re looking back at some our most popular local history stories from 2015. Today, those include: the story of how Troost Avenue changed from “millionaire’s row” to a commercial district; the early days of the Rockhill neighborhood just east of the Nelson-Atkins Museum; and a video of the homes in the Valentine neighborhood lost when Penn Valley Community College was built.

Each Monday, the Midtown KC Post features a block of Midtown. We share the historic photos we can find, maps of the area and newspaper stories from the late 1800s through the 1950s. We also ask our readers to share their memories so we can help to preserve Midtown history.

This week, we’re looking back at some of our most popular history features from the year. Here are nine blocks we wrote about in 2015. We’ll have more tomorrow. And we want to remind readers they they can share memories, old photos and stories through our Uncovering History project.

  • Westwood Park: The area from Westwood Road southwest to Westwood Terrace, and Wyoming Street southeast to 50th Street.
  • Countryside: The area from 52nd Street south to Concord Avenue, and Wyandotte Street east to Main Street.
  • Center City: The area from 31st to Armour Boulevard, and Troost to the Paseo, once a center of Jewish life in Kansas City.
  • Old Hyde Park: The 3800 block of Baltimore was the home of Mrs. Pensa Davis, who came to Westport soon after the Civil War war to teach school at a time when school teachers were almost unknown in the county.
  • Valentine: The 3100 block of Broadway today is made up of commercial office, medical and community college buildings, but it was once home to well-to-do Kansas City residents.
  • Valentine: Our video shows several hundred homes that once stood where Penn Valley Community College is today.
  • Rockhill: The block between 45th and 46th Streets, from Kenwood to Holmes, an area developed by William Rockhill Nelson just east of the current Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
  • Troost: How the street changed from “millionaire’s row” to a major commercial and shopping area.
  • Armour Boulevard: The area from Armour to E. 36th Street, from Troost to Forest, a part of Midtown mostly boarded up today but once part of Armour’s lively hotel district.

Other history stories:

  • Among the fathers of Midtown, Dr. Joseph Feld: . Before Penn Valley Park was created and before the Valentine, Roanoke, Coleman Highlands and Old Hyde Park neighborhoods were built, the northwest part of Midtown had a huge public park known as Feld Park, named for German immigrant Dr. Joseph Feld. Jan.
  • West Plaza history: from 45th Street south to 46th Street, from Bell to State Line.  The block included several businesses including Phillips Market and Wright’s Lunch on 45th and a number of small residences.
  • Old Hyde Park: The 3400 block of Broadway and Central as well as the blocks of Armour Boulevard and 34th Streets between Armour and Central.
  • Old Hyde Park: The 3400 block of Broadway and Central, as well as the blocks of Armour Boulevard and 34th Streets between Broadway and Central, including the historic Ellison Apartment Hotel at 300 West Armour and Warwick Cleaners at 3421 Broadway.
  • Valentine neighborhood: From 35th Street south to Valentine Road, and Jefferson Street east to Pennsylvania Avenue. Just east of these blocks on Broadway were the Kansas City Life Insurance Company at 3520 Broadway, and the luxury Woodlea Hotel at 3544 Broadway, demolished in 1955 after Kansas City Life bought it in 1950. The Norman School is just to the west on Summit Street (Southwest Trafficway).
  • Southmoreland: From 43rd Street south to 44th Street, and Main Street east to Walnut Street. The Karnopp Building, at 43rd and Main, is among the featured buildings. Now operating as Nature’s Own,iIn 1930, it housed Paul. J. Mason’s Drugs.
  • Heart of Westport neighborhood: The 3900 block of Central in the Heart of Westport neighborhood. Reader Janet Pickett says she grew up on the block. “I watched the city tear down 8 or 10 houses and build the Westport Station post office,” she wrote.


  1. Dale Ealey says:

    How about the area Linwood and troost, west on Linwood to Gilliam. North on Gilliam/Troost to 27th st. Or there abouts. We lived on 811 E 31st Terrace, now renamed Glen Airey Place from 1958 to 1967.

  2. Bernie says:

    I’d be interested to know about the buildings on Admiral just west of Paseo. There are Hebrew characters on some of the buildings on the north side of the street.

  3. Gwen Trader says:

    I grew up in the 60s at 1429 E. 49th St. Just 1 block east of Paseo. It was a lovely place to live in the 50-60’s. It was just 1block south of Paseo High School. There was was only 2 houses on my block. Our home was on the corner of 49th&Flora. We had such a beautiful large yard. Would love to see a photo of it back in those days.

  4. Jean Rowe says:

    I would love to see photos of 4408 Michigan Ave or any photos of the neighborhood before the midtown highway demolished the homes in that area. I lived there from 1963-1972.

Leave a Comment