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Janssen Place, Kansas City Register of Historic Places PDF  | Print |
Janssen Place Historic District Janssen Place, previously privately owned, restricted design neighborhood intended for upper class occupancy, is a significant survival of an “object less” in local landscape design and neighborhood planning in Kansas City in the 1890’2. The entrepreneur who conceived and developed the concept was Arthur Edward Stilwell, an extraordinarily active urban promoter who commissioned the local architect, George a. Mathews, to design the layout plan for Janssen Place.

Kansas City, incorporated in 1853, was by the 1880’s still growing rapidly and also maturing as a metropolis. By the 1890’s, unplanned development and rapid growth had produced some obviously ugly elements in Kansas City—such as shanties and billboards intermixed with such major urban buildings as the railroad depot.

The first report of the Kansas City Board of Park and Boulevard commissioners was issued in October 1893. This plan pointed out Kansas City’s scenic topographic characteristics and the need for an urban plan and a system of parks and parkways to take advantage of these unique features.

Prior to the formulation of a general plan for Kansas City&rsquop;s park and boulevard system, two planned areas were developed, both in the Westport area. The first was Hyde Park designed by George Edward Kessler in 1888. The second was Janssen Place, designed nine years later in 1897. The Hyde Park plan utilized the natural topography to determine and enhance the design of the area. The Janssen Place plan proposed a formal, geometrical street plan, which bore no relationship to the topography. Janssen Place was to be privately owned and controlled by the lot owners. There were to be gates at both ends and stringent architectural controls. Janssen Place was patterned after the contemporary and well-received private places of St. Louis-Portland and Westmoreland places.

In Kansas City, the Hyde Park plan proved immediately successful and popular. Lots in this area with its steep slopes, limestone outcroppings, and thick vegetation were quickly purchased for quality residential development. Hyde Park became the prototype of Kansas City’s plan.

Janssen Place Historic District Janssen Place, on the other hand, “met no encouragement in Kansas City. The exclusiveness did not appeal to enough people to fill the [street] and realty owners projected no new ones.”(Centennial History of Missouri page 900.)

The concept of restricted or controlled development (but not the design) utilized in Janssen Place was later used in the mid 1920’s by J. C. Nichols in developing his famous Country Club District of Kansas City.

After its initial beginning, only three wealthy Kansas Citians ventured “this far south” to build residences in Janssen Place: Burton D. Hurd, William A. Williams, and J. H. Tschudy. By 1906 only four lots were sold when the Janssen Place Land Company dissolved. The remaining twenty-eight unsold lots passed from the Land Company to W. P. Patton, a local capitalist. Under Patton’s control, the original private street was opened on the south by an arrangement he had made with the park board for a thirty-foot wide boulevard from the south end of Janssen Place over park property in conjunction with Harrison Parkway. Upon completion the drive was immediately turned over to the park board, free of cost, to become a part of Kansas City’s park and boulevard system. It was within the period of 1907-1917 that Janssen Place attained its greatest development with the construction of some sixteen architecturally rich dwellings. Wealthy individuals, many associated with the lumber and construction professions, including W. C. Bowman, John M. Byrne, Ralph E. Byrne, W. A. Pickering, George W. Ultch, and others, enlisted the talents of local architectural firms in the designs of their residences. John W. McKecknie; Wilder and Wight; Smith, Rea, and Lovitt were several such architects. The firm of Shepard, Farrar and Wiser appeared to have dominated the field of commissions, having designed eight know residences I the district. Janssen Place was often referred to as “lumberman’s Row” because of the large number of these lumber tycoons who resided there.

Description

The Janssen Place Historic District is situate din a predominantly residential area, which forms a part of the Westport District of Kansas City, Missouri, known as Hyde Park. Janssen Place, encompassing portions of two city blocks, is located in the general vicinity of 36th, Locust, and Holmes streets. Of the fifty-three features presently within the nominated district, twenty-nine structures, consisting of nineteen Janssen Place residences and nine garage/carriage houses plus the features of the original layout plan, have been designated as historically and architecturally significant in 1975. The remaining twenty-three structures include eight 1900-1920 period garage/carriage houses, five duplexes and seen garages dating form 1950-1959, and three duplexes constructed during the 1960’s.

The plan of Janssen Place is composed of thirty-two lots facing the broad, flat boulevard of Janssen Place. This primary artery runs north-south, bisecting the district into two major sections. Janssen Place boulevard consists of paired roads separated by a central median strip of alternating circular and elongated oval islands. These islands and outlying pedestrian walkways are richly landscaped with foliage and vegetation. It was designed with an access rout located at the southern end of the thoroughfare adjoining Hamilton Boulevard [Harrison Parkway]. In recent times, this roadway has been closed, and with the termination of the street, the district of Janssen Place presently resembles a cul-de-sac configuration.

Janssen Place Historic District The north end of the thoroughfare, facing onto 36h Street, features a Neo-Classic Revival-style main entrance gateway. Erected in 1897, the gate is composed of a central focal structure flanked to the east and west by paired, columnar pillars separating pedestrian and vehicular passageways. The material used in construction is cut white Arkansas limestone. The central focal structure occupying a circular island consists of two massive cylindrical piers, which are liked by an open screen set on a solid pedestal wall. The screen is composed of three freestanding Ionic columns and two engaged pilasters positioned at equal intervals within the rectangular void. The columns and pilasters visually and structurally support an entablature containing, in relief within the frieze, the words “Janssen Place.” The projecting cornices on the entablature and piers are richly ornamented with dentils and antifixae. Each pier is capped by concentric circles and crowned with pointed finials. Placed against the stone piers to the north and south are bronze lanterns. The flanking, freestanding cylindrical stone columns are ornamented with anthemion friezes, each column crowned by ball finials. The extreme limestone columns are abutted by two retaining stonewalls which extend with few interruptions around the district. Because of its unique quality in landscape architectural design, this nomination includes the boulevard and main entrance gate of Janssen Place.



Historic residences and structures included in Janssen Place Historic District:

  • Main Entrance Gateway—intersection of Janssen Place and 36th Street, Neo-Classic, 1897.
  • Layout plan of Janssen lace, 1897.
  • John H. Tschudy residence—2 Janssen Place, Italianate Revival, 1904-05.
  • George W. Ultch residence and garage—3 Janssen Place, Italianate Revival, 1912.
  • Albert W. Peet residence—6 Janssen Place, Jacobethan Revival, 1909.
  • Rodella G. Dwight residence and garage—7 Janssen Place, Italianate Revival, 1909-10.
  • Abram Rosenberger residence and garage—17 Janssen Place, Jacobethan Revival, 1912-13.
  • William A. Pickering residence and garage—20 Janssen Place, Italianate Revival, 1910.
  • William A. Williams residence—27 Janssen Place, Queen Anne, 1900.
  • Joseph M. Bernardin residence and garage—42 Janssen Place, Georgian Revival, 1910.
  • Burton D. Hurd residence—48 Janssen Place, Shingle Style, 1900.
  • Granville M. Smith residence—53 Janssen Place, Italianate revival, 1913-14.
  • John W. Jenkins residence and garage—54 Janssen Place, Georgian Revival, 1916-17.
  • William H. Schutz residence—55 Janssen Place, Georgian revival, 1909.
  • Edna B. Peck residence—61 Janssen Place, Georgian Revival, 1909.
  • Edward J. Foutch residence—66 Janssen Place, Jacobethan Revival, 1912-13.
  • Ralph E. Byrne residence—67 Janssen Place, Georgian Revival, 1912.
  • John M. Byrne residence and garage—73 Janssen Place, Italianate/Georgian Revival (variation), 1908.
  • Bertha Glasner-Strauss residence and garage—80 Janssen Place, Georgian Revival, 1911-13.
  • Lynn S. Banks residence and garage—88 Janssen Place, Georgian Revival, 1913.
  • William C. Bowman residence—96 Janssen Place, Georgian Revival, 1911.
  • The residences range in size from two and one-half to three stories in height. To the rear of each dwelling are located carriage houses, or garages, ranging in size form single to two and one-half stories in height. A proportionate number of these structures use similar materials and styles to the houses in front of them.



Arthur E. Stilwell

Stilwell organized the Janssen Place Land Company and on July 14, 1897, he announced the formation of the plat of Janssen Place, named in honor of August Janssen, the Dutch capitalist whose large Kansas City investments enabled Stilwell to build the Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Gulf Railway. Stilwell commissioned the local Kansa City architect, George A. Mathews, to design the layout plan, which originally “consisted of a plot of ground between 36th and 38th streets, Holmes to Locust streets. The project included thirty-two lots, each 75 feet by 250 feet facing a grand private boulevard 100 feet wide with a north open end featuring a massive white limestone and bronze gate . . . the ground along cost $100,000 and provided that no fences be erected between the homes.” (Kansas City Star, January 10, 1897.) The neo-classical gateway, “whose originality of detail held its beauty within its massive simplicity,” (Star, January 10, 1897) was composed of white limestone quarried in Arkansas and transported on the line of the Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Gulf Railway. The stonework displayed in the gateway, represented an artistic innovation in Kansas City at that time.

Architect

George A. Mathews (1860-19030 was born and educated in Brunswick, Maine. Following a period of architectural training in Lewiston, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts, Mathews located in Kansas City in 1887, accepting a position with the firm of Adriance Van Brunt of Kansas City. After three years, Mathews joined with the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Trust Company, and under Arthur E. Stilwell7rsquo;s direction served as superintendent of its building department. Mathew was the architect commissioned by A. E. Stilwell to design Janssen Place. Mathews’ association with the M. K. and Tr. Trust Company terminated in 1898 and under his supervision all buildings for the trust company and the Pittsburgh and Gulf Railroad between Siloam Springs, (Arkansas) and the Gulf of Mexico were erected.

George Mathew’s architectural career was cut short by death incurred by a tragic streetcar accident in 1903. Within his brief lifetime, however, an impressive number of buildings made evident his professional talents. Among his principal works are the First Christian Science Church, 9th and Forest Street, the Burnham-Hanna-Munger Dry goods, and Manufacturing Buildings, both on West 8th Street, and the depot and Sabine Hotel in Port Arthur, Texas.