Streetcar expansion spurred development of this Squier Park block


An 1891 map of the block shows it has been subdivided into the Troost Park subdivision, but only a handful of homes have been constructed. Source: A Complete Set of Surveys and Plats of Properties in Kansas City, Mo. 1891.

Many parts of what is now Midtown Kansas City are called “streetcar suburbs,” and this block of the Squier Park neighborhood from Forest to Tracy between 36th and 37th demonstrates the impact the transit system had upon development.

In the late 1800s, today’s Midtown was a mixture of family farms and new subdivisions that had recently been platted and put up for sale. A map from the period shows the Troost Park subdivision nestled between the large holdings of George Sedgwick to the north and J.J. Squier to the south. Although the map shows none of the lots on the block have houses, lots in the development sold in just eight days in early 1887.

The reason for the fast sales was clear – the streetcar stopped at Linwood Boulevard, but was being extended later in the year. Developers saw the promise and snapped up the nearly-platted properties. The Cowherd Brothers, a real estate business active in the development of Midtown, advertised, “Will double your money for sure by August when the cable starts”

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 block bounded by Forest and Tracy from 36th to 37th.

After a lull, home building begins in earnest

This 1907 Tuttle & Pike map shows the block filled in with homes and apartment buildings on the corner of 36th and Tracy.

By 1915, the area had filled in with homes and was alive with active families who both rented and owned on the block. The James Maynard family moved into a home on the corner of Forest and 36th before 1906 and stayed there until Maynard, a life insurance agent, died in 1931. In the 1920s, several immigrant families settled here. Developers took advantage of the good location to add small apartment buildings.

Census records from 1920 and 1930 show the mix of business people, salesmen, railroad workers and the families who lived here during those decades.

1920 and 1930 census

Apartments at 1213-1221 E. 36th Street: About a dozen families were listed as renting these apartments in 1920.  In 1930, tenants included two lawyers, a bank stenographer, a city light company clerk, and the president of an overall company.

3604 Tracy: 1920/ Daniel Work, a real estate man, rented this home with his wife, Carrie, and two daughters. 1930/Harry E. Remington, a car salesman, owned this home with his wife, Bernice, and a daughter.

3608 Tracy: 1920/ Ollie Merrick, who said he had no occupation, owned this home with his sons, age 11 and 15. 1930/John D. Howard, a golf course assistant, rented this home with his wife, Jennie B., two daughters, a son, and a boarder named Robert Pointer, a household goods salesman.

3614 Tracy: 1920/Motor car salesman Fred Britton owned this home, along with wife, Lillian, two sons and two boarders, auto company accountant Mabel Johnson and insurance company stenographer Eleanor Tucker. 1930/Dentist Charles H. Green, rented this home with his wife, Nellie, two daughters and a grandson, and two lodgers: Waldemar Koessel, a civil engineer and Harry E. Mayer, a steam railway engineer.

Apartments at 1213-1221 E. 36th Street in 1940.

3618 Tracy: 1920/All the members of this household had been born in Russia. They included tailor David Spellman, wife Fannie, mother-in-law Bessie Levy, and nephew Rueben Spellman. 1930/Real estate agent Fred Stanley owned here with his wife, Cora, a daughter, a son, and his mother-in-law.

3620 Tracy: Ditto machine salesman Joseph Roach rented here with his wife, Susie. Both were born in Germany. In 1920, their 18-year-old son lived with them, but had moved on by 1930.

3622 Tracy: 1920/Russia-born Louis (or Lewis) Dworkowitz, a saloon keeper, lived here with wife, Anna, three sons and a daughter. 1930/ Dworkowitz, (listed by a census worker as Workowitz) was a hotel manager, living with Anna and two sons

3624 Tracy: William T. Carnes, an artificial limb manufacturer, owned this home with his wife, Iva, and a son in both 1920 and 1930.

3626 Tracy: 1920/Mary Sparks, a widow, rented this home with her son, Byron, a car salesman and a daughter, Mary. 1930/Lawyer George W. Ansen owned this home with his wife, Mabel, and a daughter and a nephew. The household also included four boarders: Julia Loges, a married cafeteria stenographer and her son Willie Loges; and Nettie Sawtell, a divorced steam railway stenographer and her son Blair Sawtell.

3828 Tracy: 1920/ William Smith, not employed, owned this home with his wife, Frederica, and two daughters, both bookkeepers. 1930/ William was retired and one daughter had moved out.

3632 Tracy: 1920/William O. Park, a stockyard order buyer, rented here with his wife, Ada, father-in-law James Stanford, a patent medicine salesman, and his wife Mildred. 1930/Ten years later, William and Ada were living here alone.

The 3600 block of Tracy in 1940.

3636 Tracy: 1920/ Hay press salesman Frank Lacy rented this home with wife, Alice, and their grandson. 1930/Henry Brunker, a roofer, rented this home with his wife, Gertrude, a daughter, and three sons.

3640 Tracy: In 1920, this home was owned by George Gosling, his wife, Myrtle and a son.

3644 Tracy: 1920/ William Cass, postal clerk, rented here with his wife, Tressie, and a son, as well as lodgers, paper hanger Daniel Brooks and his wife, Nannie.  1930/Charles W. Lovitt, a hotel manager, owned this home with his wife, Gertrude, four daughters, a grandson, and a boarder named Charles Bowron, a battery salesman.

Apartments at 1202-1206 E. 37th: These apartments in 1920 were home to a post office worker, an auto mechanic, and a private nurse. In 1930, tenants included a steam railway motorman, a rug salesman, an architect, and a packing company foreman.

3643 Forest: 1920/ Widow Georgia Stewart, the daughter of German parents, owned this home, shared with daughter Stella, a bookkeeper and Ella, a public school teacher, and another daughter and a son. 1930/Junk yard dealer Phillip Millstein (listed by the census worker as Millsteau)  owned this home, shared with wife, Tillie, three daughters, three sons and a son-in-law.

3639 Forest: 1920/ Bookbinder Frank Combs rented here with his wife, Cora, and a son. 1930/Homer Flannigan, assistant supervisor of the City Ice Company, owned this home with his wife, Nora.

3637 Forest: 1920/Addie Burkhalter, a widow, owned this home, shared with her 23-year old son. 1930/Charles Winter, a carpenter, rented this home with his wife. Mary.

3633 Forest: 1920/ Photo engraver Roger Cunningham owned this home with his wife, Addie. 1930/Contracting company carpenter Joseph C. Smith rented this home along with wife, Irva, a son and a stepson. They also had seven boarders between the ages of 2 and 21 years old.

Homes on Forest Avenue in the 1940s.

3631 Forest: 1920/ Cyrus Mason, an interior painter, rented this home with his wife, Nannie, a son and a daughter. 1930/Peter Klamm, a buyer at the stockyards, rented this home with his wife, Flora, three sons and a daughter.

3629 Forest: 1920/ Hardware salesman John Cunningham rented this home with his wife, Clara, a son and daughter-in-law, and a boarder named Fred Githens, an insurance adjuster. 1930/Roy Hoover, a drug company salesman, rented this home with his wife, Flora, two daughters and two sons.

3625 Forest: 1920/William Fore, a shoe store buyer, owned this home with his wife, Lula, a son, and a boarder, Jessie Fredenburg, who managed a restaurant. 1930/The Fore household had shrunk to include only William and Lula.

3623: 1920/ Paint Company President Thomas Brueking owned this home with wife, Jernia, a son and a daughter. 1930/ Steam Railway car inspector John Johannes owned this home with his wife, Mary, and two sisters. John and his sisters were Russian immigrants.

3619 Forest: Samuel S. McKinley of Universal Motor Services Company rented this home shared by wife, Edna, two daughters, and two boarders, employment agency agent Dale Harris and real estate agent Edward Warren.

3617 Forest: 1920/Lawyer Elmer Sharp, born in Michigan to parents who immigrated from Scotland, rented this home with his wife, Grace, a daughter and two sons. 1930/The Sharps (listed by a census worker as Tharps) were still renting this home.

Apartments at 3609-3615 Forest: These apartments were not listed in the 1920 census. 1930/Among those renting these apartments were a manicurist, a packing company salesman, and a lunch counter cook.

3601 Forest: 1920/Life insurance agent Joseph Maynard lived here with his wife, Louise. 1930/Joseph and Mary Maynard still lived here, although Joseph, 70, was no longer employed.

The slideshow below shows all of the buildings on the block as they looked in 1940.

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 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 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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