Make your own free website on Tripod.com

WESTHEIGHT MANOR HISTORIC SURVEY


HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
I. BEGINNINGS
II. THE KERR FAMILY
III. JESSE A. HOEL
IV. THE DEVELOPMENT OF WESTHEIGHT MANOR
V. THE LATER YEARS
VI. OVERVIEW OF BUILDING STOCK
VII. DESCRIPTIONS OF SIGNIFICANT SITES AND STRUCTURES
VIII. CONCLUDING REMARKS
APP. 1 PLATTING HISTORY OF WESTHEIGHT MANOR
APP. 2 HOEL REALTY COMPANY
APP. 3 WESTHEIGHT MANOR DEED RESTRICTIONS
APP. 4 WESTHEIGHT MATERIAL FROM THE KANSAS CITY KANSAN
APP. 5 ARCHITECTS

OVERVIEW OF BUILDING STOCK

There were at least four homes built in the Westheight Manor survey area (the area north of State Avenue) before the first official platting in 1915 which still stand. The most conspicuous and certainly most ornate residences in this group are the two Queen Anne style homes built about 1886 and 1889. The remaining two residences, modestly designed, include one airplane bungalow and one vernacular styled home.

The years after the first platting in 1915 through World War I to 1920 yielded a small numbers of homes, although some of the area's most accomplished designs were built during this period. Approximately twenty homes were built, with the largest percentage (80%) produced in 1919. Included in this early era of residential construction were four Arts & Crafts, three Prairie Style, eight Craftsman, one bungalow, and four vernacular. Thus, sixteen of the twenty houses from this period relate to various aspects of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

A peak number of homes were built in the years following World War I, from 1920 to 1929. Approximately 210 homes were built, accounting for 64% of the total number of residences constructed in the survey area. The largest percentage of this group (49%) were styled in either the Craftsman or vernacular tradition, with forty-five and fifty-nine built respectively. Other identifiable architectual styles from this period include Colonial Revival (25), Tudor (25), airplane bungalow and bungalow (30), Prairie Style (9), Italian Renaissance (4), Spanish Eclectic (4), Arts and Crafts (4), and Neo-Classical (2). In addition, there was one of each of the following styles: American Four-Square, Mediterranean, and Cotswold Cottage.

From 1930 through the 1950s, forty-five (45) homes were constructed in the Westheight Manor survey area. The majority of residential development occurred from 1939 through 1949, while construction during the 1950s accounted for less than 2% of the homes built during this 20-year period. Although there are many architectural styles represented in this period, the vast majority were built in the vernacular. Other designs of this war-time and baby-boom era include Minimal Traditional, Ranch, Monterey, Tudor, Colonial Revival and some very early examples of the Split-Level style. One Cape Cod style home was built, in addition to one Contemporary.

There were only four residences constructed from 1960 to the present. The 1960s produced two Split-Level homes and one in the vernacular expression. A single Ranch style home, built in 1971, was the last residence to be constructed in the Westheight Manor survey area.

Commercial and institutional structures built in the Westheight Manor survey area are now confined to the eastern boundary. As previously mentioned, because deed restrictions were placed on all sales of property within the development, it is clear why the survey area has so few architectural intrusions. There were only two commercial structures built; one a modest vernacular apartment/storefront constructed in 1916, and a Spanish Eclectic-influenced building complex at the southeast corner of 18th Street and Washington Boulevard, completed in 1926.

In addition to the commercial construction, there were two churches built in the survey area, both designed in the Gothic tradtion. St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church was built in 1925-27 with significant additions in the mid 1950s, and the Central Christian Church was constructed in 1938-40, incorporating an earlier (1928) structure.

There were twenty-eight residences outside the Westheight Manor neighborhood boundaries that were also researched (six of which were built for Hoel Realty Co.). Dates of construction ranged from 1921 through 1936. Over half of the homes were styled in either the vernacular or the Craftsman tradition, while the remaining designs included Tudor, Colonial Revival, airplane bungalow and bungalow, and one in the Mission Style.

The non-residential structures that were surveyed in this peripheral area include a single, vernacular styled church built in 1927, two 1950s gas stations, and a vernacular apartment building constructed in 1968.


DESCRIPTIONS OF SIGNIFICANT SITES AND STRUCTURES
Entered in order of construction by year (eldest first)
Site of the Church in the Wilderness
Near 22nd & Washington Boulevard, 1844-1847

The Wyandot Indians brought a Methodist church organization with them when they came to Kansas from Ohio in 1843. The church had its beginnings in the missionary efforts of a lay preacher named John Stewart, a freeborn black man who had arrived among the Wyandots in 1816. Impressed by his eloquence, the chiefs of the tribe petitioned the Methodist Episcopal Church to grant Stewart a license and aid in building a school. A mission church was erected in 1824 at Upper Sandusky, Ohio - the first Methodist mission in North America - and the church played an increasingly important role in the lives and history of the Wyandots.

John Stewart died in 1823, shortly before the completion of the mission building, but his work lived after him. By the time the Wyandots came to Kansas there were some two hundred church members in a total Wyandot population of less than seven hundred. As the membership roll would not include minor dependents, it may be assumed that half or more of the Wyandots were affiliated with the church. Moreover, the church membership included many of the most prominent and best educated members of the tribe.

The Rev. James Wheeler was the missionary assigned to the Wyandots at that time. He did not accompany the tribe to Kansas, however, as it was necessary for him to stay behind and see to the proper disposal of the Ohio mission property. In his absence, services were conducted in the open by several lay preachers. An account of the subsequent building of the first church was given by Lucy B. Armstrong in 1870:

"Esquire Grey Eyes, an ordained local preacher, a good speaker, was the most active and zealous of their preachers and exhorters, and though not at all educated, was very useful and influential. At the close of one of the meetings in January 1844, he said to some of the brethren, 'I want to build a meeting house.' Said one, 'You have no house for yourself yet,' for he was living in the camp. 'I want a house for my soul first,' he replied, and he persuaded the men of the nation, whether church or not, to meet together in the woods, cut down trees, hew logs, and haul them to a place near Mr. Kerr's present residence. The United States government had not paid the Wyandots for their homes in Ohio, and they had no money to pay for lumber or work; so they made clapboards for the roof and puncheons for the floor and seats. In the latter part of April we worshipped in the house, the minister standing on a strip of the floor laid at the opposite end of the building from the door, and the people sitting on sleepers not yet covered. On the first Sabbath in June the first quarterly meeting in the territory, for the Wyandots, was held in the house, it being finished. Those were halcyon days. Though we heard no 'the sound of the church bell.' our ears were not pained, nor our hearts grieved by the sound of the axe or gun on the Sabbath. Though our church was rude and the seats uncomfortable, yet they were always well filled with worshippers and God was there."

This rude structure stood in a wooded tract that was two miles from the Wyandot settlement. It thus became known as the Church in the Wilderness.

The log church was used until the Fall of 1847, when a new brick church was erected near the present intersection of 10th and Walker on land donated by John Arms. In the interim, the national Methodist Episcopal Church had split on the issue of slavery, with the proslavery faction seceding to form the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In this division, the Indian Mission Conference to which the Wyandot Church belonged was attached to the South church, as was the missionary, the Rev. E. T. Peery.

Peery was strongly supported by William Walker, Jr., who was not himself a church member. In July 1848, the church board petitioned the Ohio Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church for a new missionary. The Rev. James Gurley arrived in November, only to be forcibly expelled from the territory by the pro-slavery Indian Agent at the instigation of Walker. The result was the Rev. Peery and his adherents took possession of the new brick church (paid for with money from the sale of the Ohio mission), while a majority of the congregation was forced to meet in members' homes.

In 1850 or '51, a second log church was built by the original congregation on property donated by Lucy B. Armstrong at what is now 38th and Parallel Parkway. Until recently, both congregations were still active in Kansas City, Kansas, though the national split has been healed. The Seventh Street United Methodist Church was descended from the South church, while Trinity United Methodist Church at 5010 Parallel Parkway can claim descent from the church begun by John Stewart in 1816.


Kerr Farm Worker's Housing
1650, 1702, 1720 North 18th Street, 1802 Walker and 1801 Wood
Architect(s) unknown
Built before 1913

These five residences were built for Hanford L. Kerr, reportedly to house farm workers on the Kerr estate prior to the development of Westheight Manor, and stood in a row along 18th Street. 1802 Walker was moved to another location some years ago. It was replaced by a used car lot, the one major non-contributing intrusion into the subdivision.

Westheight Manor Entry Markers
18th & Washington Boulevard
Architect possibly Louis S. Curtiss
Built about 1916

Two combination light fixtures and trellised planters in wood and rough fieldstone, with letters identifying the subdivision. The design and handling of materials is strikingly similar to the Hoel residence, and unlike the contemporary park designs of Hare and Hare, designers of the subdivision. Hence the tentative attritubion.

Store & Apartments for H. L. Kerr
1700 North 18th Street (originally 1702 North 18th)
Architect unknown
Built 1916

Originally the location of a grocery store and apartment, this two-story, wood frame structure was the sole building venture in the area made by H. L. Kerr after the platting of Westheight. Records indicate that Josephine Ballard, who operated the store and resided in the second-floor apartment, sometimes met her mortgage payments to Kerr in the form of groceries. The building has been modified.

Residence - site unknown
Architect possibly Louis S. Curtiss
Built about 1920

All that is known at present of this flat-roofed, stucco bungalow is that a photograph of it appeared in a 1921 advertisement for Westheight Manor, along with the caption, "Your Home of Tomorrow." Fairly obviously a Curtiss design, it is not known if it has been demolished or just extensively remodeled.

2211 Nebraska Avenue
Lefranz S. Bell Residence
Architect: Victor J. DeFoe
Built 1922

A complete "modernization" of one of DeFoe's designs, with virtually nothing of the original appearance remaining.

Westheight Methodist Protestant Church
2506 Nebraska Avenue
Architect unknown (private plans)
Built 1922

Although just outside the western boundary of Westheight Manor, for many years this large, stone church building in the Gothic style anchored the west end of Washington Boulevard through Westheight, as St. Paul's Episcopal and Central Christian still anchor the east. Originally proposed to be built in two phases, the two-and-one-half story educational block and tower entry were constructed first, with a temporary wood frame wall on the east where the future nave was to have been attached. A handsome, two-story brick rectory adjoined the church at 1208 North 25th Street, the first resident being the Rev. A. V. Canady.

Unfortunately, the hoped-for completion of the church building never came. The existing buildings were eventually sold to the First Southern Baptist church, which erected a new church of very different character at 2510 Nebraska. Finally, the original church and adjacent rectory were demolished in the 1970s, leaving the present vacant corner tract.

Westheight Manor Street Lamps
All interior streets of subdivision
Installed about 1925-26

These handsome, cast-iron street light fixtures with opalescent glass globes and underground wiring contribute to the overall character of the area. They were installed by subscription of the residents. Similar fixtures can be found in the Parkwood and Arickaree Addition subdivisions.

Mark Twain Elementary School
2210 Minnesota Avenue
Architects:
Rose & Peterson, first phase - 1922-24
Peterson & Almon, second phase - 1929-30
Dwight Horner, third phase - about 1957

Mark Twain Elementary School was just one of eleven new school buildings, together with numberous alterations and additions, which were built as the result of a major bond issue passed in 1921, with Rose and Peterson as the architects. Mark Twain school was erected to serve the growing populations of Westheight Manor and Kerr's Park. As growth continued, an annex was added in 1929. A second, larger addition came in the 1950s, which unfortunately also involved the removal of most of the decorative features of the original design in a mistaken attempt to give the school a more up-to-date appearance.

Westheight Manor Golf Club
25th & Minnesota Avenue
Architect: Fred S. Wilson
Built 1922

Originally announced in the Spring of 1922 as a three-story, $80,000 structure, a more modest one or two-story building was erected toward the end of the year. No pictures of the clubhouse have been located. According to the plan filed with the water permit application, it measured 50' by 40', its long side paralleling Minnesota Avenue. The extended cross-shaped plan is axial but irregular and asymmetric, indicating that it was probably designed in either the Craftsman or the Prairie Style. Following the sale of the golf club property to the Board of Education in 1928, the clubhouse was reportedly moved to a residential lot in Westheight, possibly at 2201 Nebraska. But if so, it has not been confirmed.

Westheight Manor Shops
1401-1403 North 18th Street and
1657-1659 Washington Boulevard
Architect: unknown
Built 1926

It was originally intended that Westheight Manor No. 4 would be a commercial area providing shops and services for the residents of Westheight, similar to the Crestwood Shops or Brookside in the areas developed by J. C. Nichols in southern Kansas City, Missouri. However, these shops on the southeast corner of 18th & Washington Boulevard were all that were ever built, except for a Standard Oil Co. gas station across the street to the north. by 1929, two of the four shops were occupied, with the Westheight Manor Beauty Shop at 1657 Washington Boulevard and Oscar Chaney Drugs in the large corner shop at 1403 N. 18th. In style the one-story shop building is a romanticized example of the Spanish Colonial Revival or Spanish Eclectic.

Group at 20th & Oakland Avenue
Residences for Hoel Realty Company
2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 Oakland Avenue
Architect: unknown
Built 1927

These two-story, stuccoed, wood frame cottages were built as a unit using identical floor plans. Three of the houses are Tudor in appearance, though without brick work or extensive half-timbering, while the other is Prairie Style in derivation. This grouping was a project of the Hoel Realty Company, as were many of the smaller houses in the development.

2201 Washington Boulevard
Fredrick J. Kasper residence
Architect: unknown (private plans)
proposed 1939

A building permit shows this $12,000 house proposed for the triangular lot formed by the intersection of Washington Boulevard, 22nd Street, and Washington Avenue. Unlike the other triangles in Westheight, this lot was apparently always intended for development as it was designated as Block 10 in the plat of Westheight Manor No. 2. Construction had proceeded no further than the foundations, however, before work was stopped by a lawsuit filed by several Westheight residents. The suit was successful, and the triangle remains a piece of undedicated park land heavily used by Westheight children.

Continue on to next chapter:
VIII. CONCLUDING REMARKS


Back to Top

Back to HWNA Home page.