The history behind DeLaSalle’s $8 million Troost expansion

Reprinted from the February 2013 Hyde Parker newsletter

When the DeLaSalle Education Center opens an expanded 300-student campus this fall, it will be the latest chapter in a Troost Avenue development saga that began more than 100 years ago.

In the process, a seven-decade long effort to serve teenagers who have not done well in traditional public high schools will grow in scope. It will also be a new twist in the ongoing educational legacy of one of the most influential Catholic leaders in Kansas City during the first half of the 20th century.

The $8 million expansion at the charter school consists of an 18,000 sq. ft. addition connected to DeLaSalle’s Forest Ave. building, with a new Troost address and bigger library. More than $1 million in renovations will occur at the original school, which opened as Bishop Lillis High School in April 1941. J.E Dunn, the same construction contractor as 72 years ago, is managing the project.

The land was originally the estate of Squier Park founder, James J. Squier, and sat idle during the Great Depression following another developer’s failed plan to turn the site into Squier Manor Community Center, a mixed-use complex of apartments, retailers, a theater, and a hotel. Over the years, most of the block’s Troost frontage remained an auto repair shop and used car lots.

The mostly privately-funded project will allow DeLaSalle, a public school that converted to charter status two years ago, to expand holistic student support programs and experiential learning that includes a print shop and a physics class that makes bamboo bicycles.

DeLaSalle first opened at the former residence of the Christian Brothers at 16th St. and Paseo with 15 students in 1971, and is an offshoot of the former DeLaSalle Academy, where at-risk youth program founder Godfrey Kobets was head athletic coach.

“There are not many alternatives in Kansas City for the high risk population we serve,” said Mark Williamson, executive director. “We fill a continuing need.”

Previous posts

DeLaSalle school upgrading Troost facility

History: The Lillis family legacy on Armour Boulevard


Comments are closed.