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Hyde Park: A Model for Mission Hills by Bill Worley PDF  | Print |

November and December 1980 issue of the Hyde Parker, reprinted with the permission of the author.

One of the most familiar houses in Hyde Park for residents and Festival–goers alike has been 3605 Gillham Road. Twice in three years it has been on the homes tour. In 1977 it was featured in city wide publicity as one of the first structures "saved" by the Historic Kansas City Foundation's efforts to preserve significant sites.

In almost all the publicity the builder of the home was listed as "E.H. Bouton." Occasionally news releases mentioned that Bouton had built 7 houses in 1888-89 in the 3600 block of Gillham and Locust. The further significance of E.H.Bouton then fades into the background as the publicity concentrated on the houses, only three of which still stand, and their owners.

Edward H. Bouton however, was not a phantom home builder who breezed into Kansas City during the real estate boom of the 1880's. His father, H.B. Bouton was an early lawyer in Kansas City, hanging out his shingle in the 1850´s. Bouton, by 1888 was an experienced real estate man and house builder. He was associated with the Jarvis–Conklin Trust Co. which financed the construction of many of the earliest Hyde Park residences.

When the Jarvis-Conklin Trust Co. and some other investors had laid out Hyde Park in 1886-88, they had asked a young landscape architect in Kansas City named George Kessler to design a park in a rough hollow which formed the eastern boundary of their holdings. The result was Hyde Park— the park. Additionally, the company of investors set up a land owner's association to govern use of the park which was fenced in with locked gates. Jarvis-Conklin and the others also determined a set of building restrictions which were to guide the quality of home construction in the area.

3605 Gillham Road
3605 Gillham Road

3608 Locust Street
3608 Locust St.

3632 Locust Street
3632 Locust St.

Because the real estate boom slacked off in the very year Bouton was building the house at 3605 Gillham, the plan for the residential community was not as immediately successful as they hoped. Jarvis–Conklin began to look around for other cities in which to invest their funds. After settling on a piece of suburban ground outside Baltimore, Maryland, they hired Bouton to be their general manager in the development of what they called Roland Park.

Now a major part of the exclusive north central section of Baltimore, Roland Park had been developed by 1912 into one of the earliest planned residential communities in the United States featuring planned park areas, homeowner's associations, and detailed building restrictions, all of which Bouton had had experience with in his work in Hyde Park here in Kansas City.

1912 was a critical year for another man of Kansas City, J.C. Nichols, who had seven years of residential planning behind him south of Brush Creek in Kansas City, Missouri, and was about to embark on a new development on land he had bought from the Armour Family in 1908 - Mission Hills, in Kansas. Nichols heard of Roland Park. In December, 1913 he spent a few days there looking over the project and comparing notes with Bouton.

He discovered that Bouton had used George Kessler, the designer of the Hyde Park park and, later, of the entire Kansas City Park and Boulevard system, to lay out his first section of Roland Park. Nichols further learned that Bouton had contracted with the Frederick Law Olmstead landscape architectural firm in Brookline,e Mass., to plan the newer sections of the development. Nichols contacted Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr., who recommended he use Sid J. Hare, a Kansas City based landscape architect to lay out his future projects. Nichols had previously used Kessler in this capacity in the planning of the Sunset Hill section, Nichols hired Hare who used ideas gleaned from Roland Park and traceable back to Hyde Park to plan Mission Hills.

Thus the house at 3605 Gillham takes on new significance as the link between a young homebuilder in the Kansas City of 1888 and a young land developer in the Kansas City of 1912 through the circuitous route of Roland Park in Baltimore. The Hyde Park which Edward H. Bouton helped to construct is a direct ancestor of all the planned residential communities developed by J.C. Nichols in Missouri and Kansas after 1912. And to thing most of use just see it as a good place to live and raise our families.