The Homestead’s new name has a Pendergast past

The Homestead at 811 East Armour is being renovated by MAC Properties, which has redeveloped many properties on Armour.

Reprinted from the April Hyde Parker newsletter

MAC Properties is reviving the former The Homestead Apartments’ original name, The Ricardo, as it renovates a 57-unit Armour Boulevard mid-rise that prior to MAC’s stewardship was known for many police calls for service.

Improvements include a new front entrance, windows and painting that restore the four-story brick building’s 1920s appearance and provides a more upscale look to a property that has Central Presbyterian Church as one nearby neighbor and The Bainbridge Apartments as another.

During its youth in the 1930s as The Ricardo, the building had a very different reputation. It was one of several Midtown properties run by Assured Rental Company Inc., a management company tied to the Tom Pendergast Democratic political machine.

A June 1935 article in Future, a Kansas City newsweekly that was The Pitch of its day, said Assured was hired to influence voting among residents at its properties. The report implied that because most Ricardo residents had voted against Pendergast candidates in the 1934 City Council elections, new management could “fix” the problem.

Headlined “Assured Majorities”, the report said Great Depression-related financial problems had resulted in Assured Rental gaining control of The Ricardo, The Alcazar on West 39th Street, The Ponce de Leon on Main Street and The Whitehall Apartments on what is now Cleaver Blvd.

Assured’s President was Pendergast crony and former City Councilman George Goldman. The report said the machine was seeking ways to deliver more votes to reverse the loss of two city council seats to reform candidates in 1934.

‘The business with the apartment hotel naturally falls to men who play ball with the machine,” Future said.

Following the 1936 City Council elections, a Kansas City Star series on Democratic Party vote fraud led to a federal investigation and indictments that resulted in 287 convictions, the removal of 60,000 illegal voter registrations and the creation of the current day Kansas City Board of Elections.