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South Hyde Park History by Jim Levitt PDF  | Print |

Part of the following article appeared in the September 1979 Hyde Parker and is from a longer article published by Broadway–Westport Community Development Corporation. The complete text is from the Lyle Kennedy papers that are part of the Western Historical Manuscript Collection. The text has been revised slightly.

Today south Hyde Park is the area from 39th to 47th Street, Gillham Road to Troost Avenue.

The earliest occupants of the area were the Shawnee or Osage Indians. White homesteaders came next. The price of land for these pioneers was only the price of staking out the land and filing a claim with the government office in Franklin, Missouri. The land from 39th to 43rd, Holmes to Troost was first owned by Robert Johnson; that from 43rd to 45th, Holmes to Troost, by Michael Farmer; and land from Holmes to Troost, 45th to 47th, was first patented by John C. McCoy, the founder of Westport, on November 11, 1828. Other early land owners in the area were William Kavanaugh and Charles Ruis.

The land was still farmed and undeveloped as late as 1887, when the 80 acres later to be known as Troost Highlands were owned by Henry Sage, who had a farmhouse and orchards near what would later be the corner of 39th & Troost Avenue. To the south of Sage's property were 40 acres owned by T.H. West (later the site of Sunny Slope). West had a farmhouse near the future corner of 43rd and Holmes. To the west of Sage's property were 78 acres owned by Nancy Davis (later the site of Vanderbilt Place #1).

All of these lands lay to the east of Westport, which was chronicled by the Jackson County Historical Atlas of 1877 as having had "the wealth of the Sonora, Chihuahua, Mexico, and Santa Fe poured into her lap. Three or four extensive wagon manufacturers were kept constantly employed making and repairing prairie schooners, and six or seven saddlery establishments, employing a host of workmen, equipping vast herds of Mexican mules for the voyage across the prairie." So they were all in pretty good company being near a bustling young town.

The south Hyde Park area was first platted for residences on June 24, 1885, when Charles F. Emery, Fletcher Cowherd, Henry Garland, William Perkins, and Edward Garnett created Troost Highlands. At that time 39th, 40th, 41st, 42nd and 43rd were know, respectively as Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland and Connecticut Avenue. Next, Vanderbilt Place (#1) was platted on November 8, 1886, by G.H. Davis and eleven associates. The 25 foot lots in this subdivision were offered by Whiteside and Jarvis Agents for $13.50 and $11.00 per lot in 1887! Both Troost Highlands and Vanderbilt Place had southern boundaries on what is now 43rd Street.

The 40 acres south of Troost Highlands were owned by James J. Squier. He moved to Kansas City area from Chicago in 1872. By 1884, Squier was president of the newly organized Citizens National Bank, and had grown to be a powerful politician. He lived in Squier Manor, which was situated at "the terminus of the cable line", at 38th and Manheim Rd. Squier's property was not subdivided into residential plots.

Gillham Road was planned and built by the city between 1902 and 1906 when it was designed as part of the massive parks and boulevard system. The road ran right through the middle of the Vanderbilt Place Subdivision, splitting it in half. The few houses which stood in its way were condemned by the city in 1902. Other property owners south of 39th Street (in the path of Gillham Road) were asked to move all houses within 30 days. The road continued into Squier's property, which had since been acquired by a William H. Gaskin. Gaskin subdivided the land from 43rd to 45th, Holmes to Troost, and named it Sunny Slope. The original plot is dated September 23, 1902.

Tate Park, the triangular block between Gillham and Holmes, was originally the corner of the estate of F.W. Klaber. By 1900 the land belonged to a Mr. John Tate, who subdivided the block for houses on August 23, 1904. The block between 45th Street and Brush Creek Blvd. was originally part of the Lansdowne Subdivision, which was plotted on October 3, 1887.

The oldest houses in the area are probably on the 3900 block of Harrison and the 4200 block of Holmes. It is in these locations that houses appear on the 1891 city map of the area. By 1925, the entire area was filled with houses.