John George Braecklein was born in the city of New York on September 18, 1865, the son of Oscar and Ida (Kirsinger) Braecklein, both German immigrants. The elder Braecklein was a druggist who had settled in St. Louis in 1849 at the age of eighteen. He moved to Leavenworth in Kansas Territory in 1857, and was one of that city's first aldermen. The younger Braecklein's birth in New York was possibly the result of a temporary dislocation during the War Between the States. The family returned to Leavenworth in 1866, and moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 1878 where Oscar Braecklein established a drug store at 5th and Broadway.

J. G. Braecklein was reportedly frail in his early years, which precluded a public school education. Nevertheless, he studied architecture at Harvard and Yale in 1884 and 1885, under professors Jordan and Gould. He was also an omnivorous reader, particularly in the fields of history and folklore. This presaged his later interest in archaeology, and a reputation as a collector and dealer in American Indian and Spanish artifacts.

He began his architectural career as a draftsman in Kansas City, in 1885, working first for Henry Probst and later for James Bannon. In 1887 he set up his own practice in Kansas City, Kansas. His first independent commission was the design for a large, Queen Anne style house of brick for Mrs. John B. Scroggs at 4th and Ann Streets in Kansas City, Kansas. The house may have incorporated an earlier structure built on the same site in about 1873 by Mrs. Scroggs' first husband, James A. Cruise, but if so, nothing visible remained of the first house. A small ink and watercolor rendering of the front elevation, in Braecklein's own hand is now in the archives of the Wyandotte County Museum.

By 1888 Braecklein had moved back to Kansas City, Missouri, and with only one interruption his home and office were to be located there for the next twenty-eight years. One of this first commissions following this move was also one of the most significant in his long career. The seven-story Heist Building at 724 Main Street, Kansas City, Missouri, was the tallest building in the city when completed in 1889, and its height coupled with its composite construction of steel beams and cast iron interior columns made it the city's first skyscraper. While the brick side walls were quite stark, the elaborate brick and stone facade on Main Street, topped with a "beehive" tower, showed a strong resemblance to the highly individual work of Philadelphia architect Frank Furness.

The Heist Building was quickly followed by another major structure, the Cordova Hotel at 12th & Pennsylvania Streets in Kansas City, Missouri. The style of the Cordova was Richardsonian Romanesque, and may have been influenced by the various Kansas City designs of Burnham & Root. For a while in 1889 Braecklein was a partner with Frank Resch in the firm of Resch & Braecklein, but by 1890 he was again working alone. The Cordova Hotel has been credited to Resch, but Braecklein included it in the list of his works published in 1901.

Despite his early success, Braecklein left for Chicago in 1890. While there he was employed by various architectural firms, assisting in the planning for several of the World's Fair buildings, the Chicago Athletic Club, the Newberry Library, and the original quadrangles at the University of Chicago. The Panic of 1893 had a marked effect on the midwestern economy, and by 1895 Braecklein was working as a draftsman in St. Louis, Missouri. He returned home that same year. He was again listed as a draftsman in 1896, working for Van Brunt & Howe, but by 1897 he had re-established an independent practice as an architect.

Braecklein was apparently well-known and well-liked among his colleagues, as the September 1900 issue of Kansas City Architect and Builder noted the celebration of his thirty-fifth birthday. Although major commissions such as the Heist and Cordova seem to have eluded him, he had become an incredibly prolific designer of houses, apartment flats, and small to medium size commercial structures. In promoting his practice, he had an illustrated brochure printed in January 1901. Entitled Portfolio of photographs, elevations and plans of buildings and homes in Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas, the brochure included fifty-five structures done over a period of thirteen years, although that possibly includes only eight years of independent practice.

Architecture and archaeology were not Braecklein's only areas of interest. He was also involved in minstrel shows, already a declining form of entertainment by 1900, and was known as the "world Champion bone-rattler". The bones referred to were worked something like castanets, forming a rhythmic accompaniment to music. In 1899, Braecklein performed as a member of the Epperson Megaphone Mastadon Minstrels in a program at the new Kansas City Convention Hall.

His practice continued unabated through the 1900s. In February 1903 Braecklein formed a partnership with John Martling, but this lasted only until June 1904. From 1905 to 1907 he was joined by a brother, Oscar F. Braecklein, who worked as a draftsman. And throughout this period, the addresses of both his office and his residence changed almost yearly.

In 1910, he formed the Braecklein Architectural Co., with offices in the New England Building at 112 West 90th Street, Kansas City, Missouri. The company listed John G. Braecklein as president, C. C. Sherwood as vice-president and treasurer, and Frank H. Blauw as secretary. On 15 November 1911 the 46 year-old Braecklein wed Clara Louise Merritt of Wamego, Kansas, a woman of Scotch-Irish and American Indian descent. The couple had four children: Oscar Foster, John G. Jr., Ida, and Elsie. This marriage seems to have brought unaccustomed stability to Braecklein's life, as for the next several years his home was at 3725 Wayne Ave., Kansas City, Missouri, while his office was in the Massachusetts Building.

Braecklein had always carried on work in both Kansas Citys, but after about 1910 he began to increasingly concentrate his practice in Kansas City, Kansas. A number of these commissions were in the Parkwood Subdivision at Tenth and Quindaro Boulevard, laid out in 1908 by Sid J. Hare for Henry McGrew's Parkwood Land Company. In 1912, Braecklein designed a speculative house for McGrew at 1020 Quindaro Boulevard. At least five more houses in Parkwood, as well as the Parkwood Park shelter house, are known to have been designed by Braecklein, but design similarities suggest that the actual number may have been twice that or more.

One of these houses was Braecklein's own, built in 1917 at 1000 Quindaro Boulevard. He maintained a studio in his new residence, but continued to have his office in Kansas City, Missouri through 1920. At the same time his designs, always eclectic in nature, became both more adventurous and possibly more polished. The Charles Abraham residence of 1916 in Parkwood was in the Prairie Style, while the house for Dr. David E. Clopper, built in the Argentine area of Kansas City, Kansas in 1918-19, included a green tile roof with oriental-seeming, upward-flaring corners and an interior embellished with a variety of exotic woods. Possibly the finest residence in this period was that for Henry J. Grossman, built in 1920 at 1500 Grandview Boulevard. There the Prairie Style was blended with a Mediterranean influence to produce one of Braecklein's most effective architectural compositions.

Throughout the 1920s Braecklein's office was located in the Kresge Building at the northwest corner of Sixth Street & Minnesota Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. However, his residence changed once again. In about 1923 the Parkwood house was sold and the Braecklein family moved to a house in Bethel, in rural Wyandotte County. There they remained for the next fifteen years. As his architectural practice continued to be quite active, he presumably commuted to his office each day on the Kansas City, Wyandotte and Northwestern Railway that linked Bethel and other small farming communities to the city. Despite this move outside the city limits, Braecklein was appointed to the first Kansas City, Kansas Board of Zoning Appeals in September 1924.

Working in Kansas City, Kansas in the booming 1920s provided Braecklein with greater scope than at any time since the 1880s, including a number of public commissions. These included the Armourdale Community Building and swimming pool, the shelter house in Parkwood Park, and two fire stations, No. 12 in the Rosedale area and No. 6 in Armourdale. The latter with its long row of steel casements on the second floor was among the most attractive of Braecklein's many designs.

His commercial work also increased in scale, if only for a brief time. In 1922 three major projects in a row along Seventh Street were begun: the Federal Reserve Life Insurance Company Building, the adjacent Getty Building, and the twelve-story Elks Club Building. The latter project was originally listed as Braecklein's but the final design was by W. S. Frank of St. Louis, Missouri, with Braecklein as associate architect. For the most part, however, Braecklein's practice continued as before, a mixture of houses, apartments and small commercial buildings. It should be noted that at the time of the completion of the Federal Reserve Life Insurance Building in February 1923, Braecklein claimed to have designed over 3,000 buildings in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Braecklein's most notable failures during this period involved Jesse Hoel's Westheight Manor development. A large Italian Renaissance villa, designed for B. B. Nance in 1921, never proceeded past the construction of the garage (now at 1106 Hoel Parkway). In 1925 the Kansas City, Kansas Real Estate Board and the Kansas City Kansan newspaper initiated a project to build "The Ideal Home" in Westheight. A closed competition was held involving Braecklein, Victor J. DeFoe, and Charles E. Keyser. The design chosen was that of the younger Keyser, and in its whole period of development Braecklein designed only five houses for Westheight, two of which were never built.

As the local economy declined in the late 1920s, so did the volume of Braecklein's practice. In 1929 he formed a partnership with his son John Jr., as Braecklein & Braecklein, and the new firm moved from the Kresge Building to the upper floor at 719 Minnesota Avenue, an older building that may have been yet another Braecklein design. The space in the Kresge Building was not relinquished, but was turned into the Wyandotte Antique Shop, capitalizing on another of Braecklein's many interest. The shop was run by Louise Braecklein, and it specialized in American Indian artifacts. Braecklein was well known as a collector and avid amateur archaeologist, and often collaborated with another well-known amateur, his neighbor Harry Trowbridge. He eventually became an honorary member of fifty-six museums in the United States and Canada.

The high point of Braecklein's collaboration with his son came shortly after the new firm was formed, with the design of the Wyandotte County Poor Farm building (now the courthouse annex) at 9400 State Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas. But like Braecklein's earlier partnerships, this one ended after less than two years. In April 1931, the 65-year-old Braecklein formed still another partnership, with Walter A. Besecke and his colleague Hubert Swanson, but again this partnership lasted less than a year.

In 1933 Braecklein moved both his office and the antique shop back to Kansas City, Missouri, at 1900 Main Street. Both continued in this location until 1935, when he went into semi-retirement at his home in Bethel. His last recorded architect commission had come in 1934, with a community building addition to the White Church Community Church near his home. Over the years he contributed parts of his architectural and archaeological libraries and collections to various area libraries and museums. This included a gift of books on architecture to the University of Kansas City in 1936, in which he was joined by William Volker.

By 1939 Braecklein was probably bored with retirement and perhaps feeling a bit isolated in Bethel. He and his wife moved for the last time, to 3850 East 60th Street Terrace in Kansas City, Missouri. He carried on a small architectural practice out of his home, and with Louise opened the Braecklein Indian Store at 4720 Troost, in Kansas City, Missouri. The store closed after two years, but he continued to be called upon by old friends to serve as a consultant. In 1956 he suffered a stroke, but managed to recover. He died in his home on 7 October 1958, at the age of 93, having practiced architecture for nearly seventy years. He was survived by his wife, two daughters, eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.


Louis Singleton Curtiss was born in Belleville, Ontario, on 1 July 1865, the second son of Don Carlos and Frances Elvia Curtiss. He was the fourth of six children, including twin girls. His father was a dry goods merchant in Belleville; was mother, of French descent, had moved to Canada from Norwalk, Ohio after being left widowed with an infant daughter. In later years Curtiss kept in touch with his family, including his elder half-sister, but was non-communicative about his personal life with his friends and associates in Kansas City. So much so that when he died, one of the city's most notable architects, his obituaries uniformly gave his middle initial as "A." rather than "S.", one stated that he was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, and another stated that he had no known relatives.

Perhaps one cause of his reticence was that he had been on his own for many years. His father died in 1883, and Frances Curtiss died just fifteen months later in June 1884. The remaining family members were scattered; Louis reportedly enrolled at the University of Toronto to study engineering. He also supposedly studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France (the first of several trips to Europe), but no record of his presence at the Ecole has been found.

By 1887 the twenty-two-year-old Curtiss had arrived in Kansas City, one of many young architects who relocated in order to take advantage of the building boom then under way. The following year he was employed as a draftsman in the office of Adraince Van Brunt, a local architect of some prominence who would later play a major role on the city's first Park Board.

Curtiss left Van Brunt in 1890 to form a partnership with Frederick C. Gunn as the firm of Gunn & Curtiss. At the same time, he began a two-year appointment as assistant to the Superintendent of Buildings for Kansas City, Missouri. While serving in this capacity he designed the pioneering caisson footings for the old Kansas City, Missouri City Hall at 4th & Main Streets (1891-92, demolished 1938), apparent evidence of his background in engineering.

Several of the architects who worked with Curtiss over the years are of some note. James C. Sunderland worked for Gunn & Curtiss for eight years before starting his own firm in 1899. Nineteen-year-old Frederick McIlvain joined Gunn & Curtiss as a draftsman in 1892, and remained with Curtiss as his principal assistant for seventeen years. Curtiss' influence on McIlvain was particularly strong, to the point where several of McIlvain's later, independent commissions have occasionally been misattributed to his former employer.

The practice of Gunn & Curtiss was successful from the beginning. Perhaps surprising for a relatively young firm, they received the commission to design the Missouri State Building for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, Illinois. Other large public projects followed, including the Tarrant County Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas (1893-95), and the very similar Cabell County Courthouse in Huntington, West Virginia (1895). Both courthouses were in the French Renaissance style, featuring a central block with end pavilions and a domed central tower, on a scale approaching that of some state capitol buildings.

Additional projects from the early 1890s included the Progress Club and Virginia Hotel, both on Washington Street in the Quality Hill area of Kansas City, Missouri. Of particular interest as an example of the extremely imaginative design of which Curtiss was capable was the Immanuel Church, erected in 1893 on the grounds of the Western Branch of the National Home for Disabled Soldiers in Leavenworth, Kansas. Here Romanesque and Gothic elements were freely mixed in a building dominated by its great gable roof, almost a forerunner of the A-frame buildings of the 1960s.

In 1895-96 Curtiss spent six to seven months again studying at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he reportedly had his design for a Palais de Justice accepted by the offical jury for salon exhibition. He returned to Kansas City in April 1896, where an unbuilt design for a Wayside Inn, "to be situated on one of the roads leading from the town", was soon published in the Kansas City Star. This project signaled the beginning of the partonage of William Rockhill Nelson, publisher of the Star, a relationship that would apparently last until Nelson's death in 1915. Over the years Curtiss designed a variety of alterations and additions to Nelson's home, Oak Hall, as well as houses in the nearby Rockhill development and additions to the Star building.

As a result of the Panic of 1893 and the ensuing depression, opportunities for architects were limited in the latter part of the decade. Nevertheless, in 1898 Curtiss was once again in Europe for three months, doing research on the Baltimore Hotel project for the Thomas Corrigan estate. The initial phase of the hotel was built in 1898-99 at the southeast corner of 11th & Baltimore in Kansas City, Missouri. From that point on Curtiss was repeatedly called back for alterations and additions, in 1901, 1904, 1907-08, and 1914, until the hotel covered half of a city block. The commission also provided Curtiss with two future patrons in the persons of Bernard Corrigan, trustee for the estate, and Allen J. Dean, secretary and general manager of the Baltimore Hotel Company.

There is some question as to whether or not the initial Baltimore Hotel commission was a Gunn & Curtiss project or belonged to Curtiss alone. In any event the firm was dissolved in 1899 and Curtiss began his independent practice. At this time Curtiss made a will in which his books, household goods and furniture were left to Frederick McIlvain, who continued in the new office as Curtiss' associate. Despite the increasing volume of business, the office apparently never consisted of much more than Curtiss, the assistant McIlvain, one or two draftsmen, and an office boy.

One of the first commissions to be completed after the split with Gunn was the Standard - now the Folly - Theatre, built in 1900 at 300 West 12th Street, Kansas City, Missouri, which may have begun as a Gunn & Curtiss design. This was followed by a series of notable works, including the Willis Wood Theatre of 1901-02, a marvelous Beaux Arts wedding cake of a building that stood across from the Baltimore Hotel and sadly burned in 1917. Although most have been demolished or altered past all recognition, Curtiss also did a large number of commercial and office buildings in or near the downtown in this period. Perhaps the most notable was the first building for the Jones Store Co., (1902). A Chicago Style commercial building, its steel frame was clad in white terra cotta, with at least a superficial resemblance to Louis Sullivan's Carson-Pirie-Scott store.

Most of Curtiss' designs up to this point had been rather witty, eclectic variations on the historical styles, with even the Jones Store following an accepted, if rather new, precedent. He was well educated, well travelled, and well read, with an amazingly wide range of interest. He was also a rather flamboyant individualist, with white suits, a flowing tie, one of the fastest cars in town, personally monogrammed Turkish cigarettes which he smoked incessantly, and a habit of paying his bills in gold coin. It is therefore not too surprising that like other architects of his generation, he began to question the appropriateness of slavish adherence to historical precedent, and instead began to consider the development of a new architecture, appropriate to its time and place.

Perhaps the first indication of the direction that he would eventually take came with the R. E. Bruner house of 1903-04. The rough limestone and red tile roof were common enough in Kansas City, but the entry door of wood and leaded glass, set within a Syrian arch covered with mosaic tiles, was one of the purest examples of Art Noveau design to be found anywhere within the United States.

The Bruner house was not immediately followed by similar examples. The Rule house of 1904 was comfortably Colonial Revival, while the Benjamin Schnierle house at Sixth Street and Oakland in Kansas City, Kansas was just a bit out of the ordinary, with wide-eaved hip roofs derived from the Prairie School and unusual dormers which extended the lower wall plane. Curtiss' commercial buildings of this period, such as the Argyle Building at 306 East 12th Street, also continued to follow historic precedent, although like his houses they show a certain austerity in their flat walls with crisply punched openings, quite different from the Beaux Arts exuberance that might be expected from someone with Curtiss' background.

In 1905, Curtiss was reportedly exposed to smallpox while viewing a fire in the West Bottoms. He was required to remain isolated for several months, which may have given him an opportunity to carefully consider the direction and content of his work. In any event, it was from this point that he became increasingly involved in the development of a highly personal architectural style. The elements of that style were not entirely his own, but were blended in such a way as to produce something surprisingly coherent. His commercial projects from this point would combine the explicit approach to structure of the Chicago School with a treatment of surface and ornament derived in large part from the Vienna Secession, with its geometric abstraction of Baroque and Neo-Classical sources.

His residential work was initially strongly influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement, but other elements eventually came into play such as tile roofs, flat stucco wall surfaces, and blocky forms borrowed from the Spanish Colonial Revival, together with a horizontal line and the use of multiple casements common to both the Prairie Style and work of the brothers Greene in California. The link between the two aspects of his work could be found in his largest residential commissions, the Corrigan house and the Casa Ricardo tourist hotel. Here the elements of his commercial work and smaller residences are blended, with Prairie Style lines, Secessionist ornament, and touches of the Arts and Crafts. Taken individually these buildings can seem rather idiosyncratic, but when viewed together they form a very consistent and highly attractive body of work.

It was shortly after his illness that a whole new field of work opened up for Curtiss. He began to design railroad stations and related hotel facilities for the Santa Fe Railroad and the Fred Harvey restaurant chain, to the point of becoming virtually the "house architect" for the Santa Fe system. One of the first such projects was the El Bisonte Hotel in Hutchinson, Kansas, completed in 1907. Here the Arts and Crafts interiors would set the pattern for much of his future work. Similar projects soon followed, with depots and hotels in Emporia, Syracuse and Wellington, Kansas; the El Ortiz Hotel of 1909 in Lamy, New Mexico; and additions to the El Tovar Hotel at Grand Canyon, Arizona.

A number of these works drew on the Southwestern, Indian, and Spanish Colonial motifs long associated with the Santa Fe, and are the first such instances of these elements in Curtiss' developing style. With his reputation established as a railroad architect by his work for the Santa Fe, other railroad projects followed, particularly in Texas and the Southwest. Among his patrons, in addition to the Santa Fe, were the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway (the Frisco Line), the Rock Island, and the short-lived St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway.

Curtiss in his personal life did not enjoy the same success as in his growing architectural practice. According to his biographer, Fred Comee, it was in late 1907 or early 1908 that the great romance in Curtiss' life ended disastrously. Although a long time friend of the family, his proposal of marriage was rejected by the girl's father because of a difference in ages, and the girl married another man. There has been some speculation that this event helped to push Curtiss further down the path he had chosen in developing a new architecture.

It was also during this period of change and innovation that Curtiss lost his long-time assistant, Frederick McIlvain. In 1908, McIlvain formed a partnership with Frank Jackson, a former draftsman with Frederick Hill and Van Brunt & Howe. In 1909 they designed the Elms Hotel in Excelsior Springs, a building with a marked similarity to Curtiss' El Bisonte Hotel (and a replacement for the first Elms Hotel, a possible Curtiss design destroyed by fire). They also designed a commercial building at 3240 Main Street Kansas City, Missouri in 1914 with such strong similarities to Curtiss' later work that for some time it was attributed to him. By 1910 Curtiss had another assistant, Clarence K. Birdsall, but Birdsall only remained with the office for a relatively short time.

As Curtiss' new style developed through his railroad commissions, so to with his various commercial projects. The common design program tended to be an enframement at the sides or corners and top of terra cotta, with a wall area of glass and metal hung from the frame as a screen. The pattern was set with a small commercial building for Dean Brothers Realty Co. at 1114-1116 McGee Street, Kansas City, Missouri, in 1904, a similar building for the same client at 1105 McGee in 1906, and soon fully developed with the famous Boley Clothing Company Building of 1908-09. In the last instance the screen wall was literally hung from the edges of the floor slabs, which were cantilevered for several feet beyond the structural columns, making the Boley Building the first true glass and metal curtain-wall building in the world. Other buildings of like design were Curtiss' own three-story Studio Building at 1118-1120 McGee, completed soon after the Boley, and the Ideal Clothing Company Building, erected in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1910. The Studio Building was built as an investment on the advice of Bernard Corrigan, given the substantial income that Curtiss was now receiving.

Curtiss continued to receive railroad projects, including two Union Railroad Terminals, one for Wichita, Kansas, and one in Joplin, Missouri, both begun in 1910. The Joplin Union Terminal was similar to several of his more adventurous depots for the Santa Fe, albeit on a larger scale, and had elements of the Boley Building as well, with its large glass areas framed with terra cotta and set off by over-scaled Secessionist ornament. The Wichita station was another project for the Santa Fe. Its main entry facade was at one end, and reflected the Beaux Arts Classicism of Curtiss' earlier career. What the most commonly published photo does not reveal, however, is that the long side facades were entirely in Curtiss' new style, while the interiors were almost pure Vienna Secession in form and ornament. Renderings of three other depot projects from this period are known, all unidentified and only one dated (30 August 1913) and all continue in the pattern set by the Joplin and Wichita depots.

In 1911-12 Curtiss undertook a number of projects for the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railroad in the new town of Kingsville, Texas. One of these was for a tourist hotel called the Casa Ricardo (Casa Gertrudis on the original rendering), to be operated under Fred Harvey management. An L-shaped structure with broad eaves and continuous balconies along the interior of the L, the design was one of Curtiss' finest, and set the pattern for the Bernard Corrigan residence on Ward Parkway in Kansas City, Missouri, built the following year. Corrigan was, like Curtiss, originally from Canada, and had played a significant role in Curtiss' career. Unfortunately, he died before the house was completed and it passed into the hands of the Sutherland family.

As these projects were underway, Curtiss acquired a new assistant. Fred S. Wilson joined Curtiss as a draftsman in 1912, and would remain in the office until the beginning of World War I. Although he established his own practice after the war, he would continue to supervise jobs for his former employer through the last of Curtiss' active projects.

The volume of Curtiss' practice dropped markedly after 1912. In part this was likely related to a general shift in public taste, as the various academic revival styles won out over attempts to develop a specifically American architecture. Like fall-offs happened in the practices of other "Progressive" architects of the period such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles & Henry Greene. Those who could not, or would not, adapt themselves to the demand for a polite historicism soon found themselves without clients or commissions.

From this point on Curtiss' work was largely confined to small and medium size houses. Fortunately, in the area, there was still some demand for his talents. The house that set the pattern for those that followed was built in 1914-15 for his friends the Norman Tromanhausers, at 3603 West Roanoke Drive. Here the various features of the later houses all found expression: plain stucco wall surfaces accented by carefully placed flat tiles, large glass area partially framed or screened by geometircal wooden trellis work, panels of stained glass illuminated by concealed lighting, repeated use of casement windows and French doors, and Arts and Crafts interiors with beamed ceilings, brick fireplaces, and built-in seats and shelving. There was also a tendency toward volumetric expression, with each major interior space or group of related spaces expressed as a distinct volume or form on the outside.

In 1915 and early 1916, the subdivision of Westheight Manor was developed in Kansas City, Kansas by Jesse A. Hoel from designs prepared by Hare and Hare. Hoel was obviously an enthusiast where Curtiss was concerned, as the first house to be built in the new subdivision, Hoel's own, was one of Curtiss' finest. Here the stucco was replaced by rough faced stonework, but in other ways the pattern set by the Tromanhauser design was followed. Curtiss may also have been responsible for the Westheight entry markers at 18th Street and Washington Boulevard, as they have a strong resemblance to the forms and details of the Hoel residence.

Additional designs for Westheight followed, with the William C. Rickel house of 1919 and the Harry G. Miller, Sr. house in 1920-21. Yet another house for Westheight, built before 1921, is known only from a blurred photograph in a Hoel Realty Co. advertisement. The Harry M. Winkler residence of 1921, at 1915 Washington Avenue, may also be a Curtiss design, although it is conceivable that it was the work of Fred S. Wilson. A single Curtiss project in Kansas City, Missouri, the James G. Rowell residence of 1920-21, is contemporary with the Westheight work.

One other house from this period deserves mention. The Wookey residence in Toronto, Ontario, is known from a photograph which is labeled "last design" on the back in pencil. Fred Comee assumed that this meant the house was built about 1915, but he was unaware of the Westheight projects or the Rowell house. It is a striking design, with elements of the Tromanhauser and Hoel residences set off by an apparent return to formal symmetry, and great planting urns of cast stone similar to those found on some Prairie School designs.

In his last years Curtiss seemed to retreat into isolation. In 1917 he developed the top floor of the Studio Building into an apartment for himself, with features reminiscent of his residential interiors of the time but many unusual personal touches as well. As commissions declined in size and number he spent increasing hours on structural studies and the development of architectural theory. By the time the Miller house was under construction, he left supervision entirely in the hands of Fred Wilson and visited the site only once.

Louis S. Curtiss, unquestionably Kansas City's most important architect, died on 24 June 1924, at about 9:00 in the evening while at his drawing board in his apartment. He was not quite 59 years old. His rather inaccurate obituaries noted that he had complained of bronchial problems to his friends. His death followed a coughing spell, and was officially ascribed to hemorrhage of the lungs. Some have stated that it was in actuality a ruptured aortic aneurysm, the result of syphilis contracted many years before. He was buried, at his own request, in an unmarked grave in Mount Washington Cemetery.


Victor Jacques Dafoe was born in La Bara, Mexico, on 6 August 1892, the son of Victor David and Frances Ada (Holt) Dafoe. The family was from Canada, of English and French descent, and the elder Dafoe was employed as an auditor for a railroad company.

Victor Dafoe received a public school and high school education and reportedly attended college, although where or when is uncertain. He is first listed in the 1907 city directory as a clerk at the Emery-Bird-Thayer department store, residing alone at 2433 Myrtle Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri. The following year he went to work for the American Sash, Door and Fixture Company where he was to stay for eleven years, first as a clerk, then as an estimator and architect.

About 1909 he was joined in Kansas City by his parents, his brother Claude, and his younger sister Thelma. His father died in February 1910. On 24 March 1911 Dafoe married Minnie Ella Trant, a widow with two children, Elias Arther Trant and Vivan Jean Trant. The new family lived at various addresses over the years, but by 1918 they had moved in with Ada, Claude and Thelma at 1527 Montgall, Kansas City, Missouri. This was likely due to Dafoe's military service during World War I, as a First Lieutenant in the 7th Infantry, Missouri National Guard.

During his employ with American Sash and Door, Dafoe also carried on a practice as a residential architect on the side. In 1919 he left the firm, working first as a draftsman for the J. C. Nichols Company, then as an architect with J. W. McCallum Construction Company. Finally, in 1920, he set up an independent practice from his residence at 1005 Agnes Street, Kansas City, Missouri. It was at this time that he changed the spelling of his name from Dafoe to DeFoe.

By 1921 he had begun designing in J. A. Hoel's Westheight Manor development in Kansas City, Kansas. Over the next six years he was responsible for over twenty designs for Westheight Manor, including many of the most distinguished residences in the neighborhood. His earliest houses have little to distinguish them from standard builder's houses of the time, but he soon developed a highly distinctive style which was generally a rather disciplined variation on Arts and Crafts design, where brick and stone were frequently employed in combination. This, together with rather eclectic borrowing from a variety of sources, eventually resulted in a number of his Westheight houses being misattributed to Louis S. Curtiss.

The resemblance to Curtiss' work is particularly strong in the Fred Robertson residence of 1922-23, with its volumetric expression of interior spaces and decorative use of many-coloured tile set in roughcast. Unlike most post-1908 Curtiss residences, the overall design is symmetrical, and like DeFoe's Torson and Sihler residences it involves one-story wings wrapped around and interlocked with a two-story center block. Occasionally, as with the Jennings and Wells residences, DeFoe's designs seem to approach the Georgian Revival, and perhaps they were sold to his clients as such, but there is far too much originality evident in the detailing and the handling of materials for the designs to be considered mere academic expressions.

In 1922 DeFoe's brother Claude joined him briefly as a draftsman. He also entered into a partnership with Maurice Carroll at this time, but the firm of DeFoe & Carroll lasted less than a year. In 1925 he entered into a second partnership, with Walter A. Besecke, first as DeFoe & Besecke, then as Besecke & DeFoe, with offices in the Huntzinger Building at 114 West Tenth Street, Kansas City, Missouri. Even after this partnership was dissolved in 1928, DeFoe kept this office until forced out by the Depression in 1933.

Despite the obvious quality of his practice, DeFoe's residential address changed even more frequently than that of his business. The family moved in 1922, '23 and '24, then settled in Smithville, Missouri for two years. It was during the Smithville residence that DeFoe & Besecke became Besecke & DeFoe, perhaps because of DeFoe's absences from Kansas City. In 1927 the DeFoes returned to Kansas City and for four years resided at 4148 East Sixth Street, Kansas City, Missouri. It is not known if DeFoe was responsible for the design of any of the various residences his family occupied over the years.

In addition to the houses in Westheight DeFoe also designed a number of commercial projects for J. A. Hoel including "The New England Shops" - four linked buildings in the 800 block of Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas. At the same time, he was reportedly responsible for the design of a number of houses in the Sunset Hill neighborhood south of the Country Club Plaza. After the mid 1920s, however, there was less interest in the kind of imaginative design of which DeFoe was capable, and more demand for restrained, "correct" adaptations of period styles. The practice of Besecke & DeFoe was apparently successful, nevertheless, and included a surprising number of theatres, as well as several apartment buildings on Armour Boulevard in Kansas City, Missouri. But the difference in design philosophy may have created a strain on the partnership.

The two men parted in 1928, and DeFoe resumed an independent practice. Work continued through 1929, including DeFoe's only known commission for a church. But with the onset of the Great Depression, a decade of very active practice came to an end. DeFoe was nevertheless able to find one last outlet for his talents. The private residential community of Lake Quivira was begun in the late '20s on the border of Wyandotte and Johnson Counties. In 1930 DeFoe was hired by the Quivira Lakes development Company to design a new Clubhouse. This was followed over the next three years by designs for at least five houses and an apartment building, but it is uncertain as to how much of this was actually built. In any event the work was apparently not enough. By 1934 DeFoe's office closed, and in 1935 he was listed as a building contractor.

That same year the family moved to their final residence, at 1492 East 76th Street just west of the Paseo in Kansas City, Missouri. Arthur still resided with his parents, and for a while tried his own hand at the contracting business. By 1937 DeFoe was again listed as an architect, and designed a Lake Quivira residence for the brother of one of his old Westheight clients, Ed Haren. The last known design by DeFoe was in 1939, and after 1940 the family was no longer listed in the city directories. Victor J. DeFoe passed into obscurity, a melancholy fate for one of the most accomplished architects to practice in the Kansas City area.


Edward Buehler Delk, affectionately known as Ned, was born in Schoharie, New York, on 21 September 1885. After graduating from Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania in 1903, he went on to study architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving his degree in 1907. Following graduate studies at the University of London, he established an architectural practice in Philadelphia in 1913.

During the First World War, Delk served as a lieutenant in the Army Air Service. While still in England after the end of the war, he was approached by John C. Taylor of the J. C. Nichols Co., who persuaded him to come to Kansas City rather than return to Philadelphia. Nichols apparently felt that the work of local architects lacked refinement, and that Delk, described as an architect of "restraint and good taste", possessed qualities that were needed to help bring Nichols' vision for Kansas City to fruition. Taylor guaranteed Delk enough work in Kansas City to carry him through the initial years of establishing a clientele, and the Nichols Co. built Delk an office at the intersection of Ward Parkway and Meyer Boulevard, near the seahorse fountain.

After working briefly as a consultant to the Nichols Co., Delk began his private practice in 1922. It was at that time that he prepared the initial overall designs for the Country Club Plaza. This was followed by designs for two of the first buildings on the Plaza, the Mill Creek Building and the Tower Building erected in 1923-24. Delk's next large project was in association with Courtland Van Brunt, for the design of Westminster Court in Jesse A. Hoel's Westheight Manor development. Here five houses and four attached townhomes were arranged about an interior pedestrian court in a manner liken to English Garden City examples.

In 1925 Delk worked on a variety of large projects which reflected the range of his taste and abilities. He designed the D. W. Newcomer's Sons Funeral Home at 1331 Brush Creek Boulevard, a rambling structure of Italian and Spanish influence, enhanced by fountains and formal landscaping. In collaboration with Edward T. Wilder, he designed the clubhouse for the Kansas City Country Club. One of the first of his many large and impressive residences was that for Mary Zook Hibbard, at 6101 Mission Drive. And for the City he designed the graceful Mill Creek Viaduct, to carry the County Club streetcar line across the intersection of Mill Creek Parkway and 43rd Street in Kansas City, Missouri.

Delk's work soon extended beyond Kansas City, most notably in a series of projects for Oklahoma oil millionaire Waite Phillips. He was co-architect of the 23-story Philtower office building in Tulsa, and designed a 72-room mansion for Phillips on 23 acres close to the center of the city. The house was completed in 1927; ten years later Phillips gave his estate to the Southwestern Arts Association, which opened it to the public as the Philbrook Arts Center. The 127,000 acre Philmont Ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico, with a 28-room ranch house designed by Delk, was similarly given away to the Boy Scouts of America, along with the Philtower to provide income for the ranch's upkeep.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, Delk designed a number of houses in J. C. Nichol's Mission Hills development. Four houses were located in the immediate vicinity of the Verona Columns: a Colonial house to the north; a low, Tudor style house above the banks of Brush Creek to the west; and two Italian-influenced residences south of the columns. Similar work graced the Country Club district to the east, as with the Colonial Style house for T. J. Madden at 1001 West 57th Street.

The Colonial Style was also employed for the Schuyler-Ashley Residence Hall for the Pembrook Country Day School, built in 1930. In the following year Delk designed one of his most unusual projects, the Neo-Classical traffic light standard of stone and concrete that stands in the center of the intersection of Linwood Boulevard and the Pasio. Also in 1931, he designed St. Andrew's Episcopal Church at Wornall and Meyer Boulevard.

While the pairing of an architect as conservative as Delk with Frank Lloyd Wright would seem most unlikely, Delk served as Wright's local associate on two projects in the late 1930s. The small Usonian house for the Clarence Sondern family at 3600 Belleview, Kansas City, Missouri, was completed in 1940 without any problems. The Community Christian Church at 4601 Main Street, Kansas City, Missouri, (1939-40) was another matter. After repeated conflicts with the City's Pendergast-era building inspection department, Wright resigned the commission, leaving to Delk the modification of the plans and eventual completion of the altered design.

Edward Delk's final contribution to Kansas City came in 1950, with the design of the Starlight Theater in Swope Park. A complex covering fourteen acres, it was considered to be the most elaborate and modern of outdoor theatres at the time of its completion. The design was traditionalist in flavor without alluding to any specific past style, a quiet conservativism having always been a hallmark of Delk's work.

Edward Buehler Delk died suddenly on 1 September 1956, at sea aboard the S. S. Excambion, while returning with his wife Jane from a trip to Europe. He was buried in Philadelphia, his former home. A memorial service at his house in Kansas City was attended by one hundred friends, with a eulogy being delivered by former Kansas City mayor William E. Kemp.


Sid J. Hare was born in Louisville, Kentucky on 26 January 1860. He came to Kansas City with his parents from Kentucky in 1868. He received a special deploma from Central High School in three years, and by the age of thirteen had done a year of post-graduate work under Professor E. C. White, studying trigonometry, surveying and civil engineering.

Hare was eventually employed on survey crews in the City Engineer's office as a surveyor, draftsman and photographer. While there, he was called on to escort George E. Kessler, consultant to the Kansas City, Missouri Park Board and father of the city's parks and boulevard system, as Kessler worked on site selection and planning. Although two years older than Kessler, this relationship was to have a lifelong influence on Hare, who would eventually earn for himself a nationwide clientele as a consulting landscape engineer.

On leaving the City Engineer's office, Hare's initial employment in the landscape field was in the area of graveyard design. An authority on the history of graveyards, Hare was a forerunner of the "garden motif" philisophy in cemetery landscaping. In 1901 at a professional convention of cemetery superintendents in Kansas City, Missouri, Hare discussed the cemetery as a botanical garden, bird sanctuary and arboretum - probably the first on record in the design evolution of the modern cemetery. As Superintendent of Forest Hill Cemetery, Hare assembled one of the most comprehensive collections of trees and shrubs in the Midwest.

Hare resigned his office at Forest Hill in 1902, to establish himself in the practice of landscape architecture. In the first decade of the twentieth century, landscape architecture as a separate field was just coming into its own, and Hare soon established a well-reputed and successful business. Over twenty-five major projects in six states (including the plan for Parkwood in Kansas City, Kansas) had either been completed or begun by the time his son, S. Herbert Hare, joined his father in a partnership. In 1907 even before the Parkwood subdivision was platted, Hare made a master plan for the area, outlining winding streets fitted to the existing topography and planning for extensive plantings. As subsequently developed, Parkwood included landscaped islands at several key intersections, and stone pillars topped with ornamental light fixtures marked the entrances to the subdivision at Tenth and Eleventh Streets on Quindaro Boulevard - all features which would later be more fully explored in the design of Westheight Manor.

S. Herbert Hare was born in Kansas City on 27 June 1888, the son of Sid J. Hare and his wife Mathilda. By the time he graduated from Manual Training High School in 1906, he had already worked as a draftsman in the office of architects Shepard & Farrar. He had been brought up on botany and landscaping, and for two years he worked for his father while doing special post-graduate work. He then attended Harvard University, admitted with advanced standing, where one of his professors was Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., who, like the younger Hare, was the accomplished son of a major figure in American landscape architecture.

Hare left Harvard with a certificate of completion of special work in 1910, returning to Kansas City where he joined his father in forming the firm of Hare & Hare. Among their earliest joint projects was the design and landscaping of Highland Park cemetery at 38th Street and State Avenue, on what was then the western edge of Kansas City, Kansas. The completed design included a chapel and a caretaker's house, both in the Mission Style, and a formal entrance flanked by curving pergolas.

During their twenty-eight year association as partners, Sid always preferred the park and cemetery projects, delegating to Herbert the details of city planning and other commissions. Some of the firm's early projects included park designs for the City of Kansas City, Kansas (1911-1913), streets in Wagner Place in Jefferson City, Missouri (1913), Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Washington (1914), and several graveyards, in addition to smaller private and public projects. As the business grew, Hare & Hare's trademark became evident - winding roads contoured to natural topography, preservation of trees and valleys and an eye for the scenic vista.

In 1913 the firm attracted the attention of J. C. Nichols, developer of the Country Club District in Kansas City, Missouri, reportedly when Herbert was recommended to Nichols by Olmsted as a young man of exceptional abilities. Hare & Hare were hired by Nichols and served as landscape architects in laying out approximately 2500 acres of the district, as well as designing the grounds for many of the area's homes.

In 1915 Hare & Hare prepared the plans for Westheight Manor in Kansas City, Kansas for developer Jesse A. Hoel. The area soon replaced Parkwood as the premier residential neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas. The portion of Westheight designed by Hare & Hare was placed in its entirety in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and 1982.

With the coming of the 1920s community planning and design changed appreciably when America realized the needs of an increasingly industrial and technological society. In 1922 as one of the first post-war manifestations of this awakening, the planned community of Longview, Washington was created. Hare & Hare received the design commission, in collaboration with George Kessler as design consultant.

Now well-established, the team of Hare & Hare were much sought after not only locally, but nationally. Projects for cemeteries, college campuses (including the University of Kansas City), subdivisions, parks and military camps were commissioned. By 1925 Hare & Hare had completed projects in twenty-eight states.

Between the beginning of the Depression in 1929 and Sid Hare's death in 1938, Hare & Hare completed several local projects, including the Municipal Rose Garden in Loose Park, the campus layout and landscape design of Wyandotte High School, the renovation of the Missouri State Capitol grounds in Jefferson City, and the setting for the Nelson Gallery-Atkins Museum. For Kansas Citians, the Nelson project is likely Hare & Hare's best know landscape development.

With the onset of World War II, the nature of Hare & Hare's commissions changed. The scope of their work was almost entirely limited to government subsidized projects, most of which included military housing. Then from the years 1945 through the 1950s commissions for a variety of projects resumed. Extending into thirty-three states, as well as Canada, Mexico, and Costa Rica, Hare & Hare's work included planning sites of prestigious subdivisions, campus plans for colleges and professional schools, urban master plans and commercial revitalization projects. In Kansas City and the surrounding area, the most exemplary of projects from that period include the Mission Hills District, the grounds of the Truman Library and Linda Hall Library, and Lake Jacomo.

In the Spring of 1960, soon after completing plans for Lake Jacomo Park, S. Herbert Hare died. After several changes in management over the years, the firm, carried on by Chalmer V. Cooper, merged with Ochsner & Associates, becoming Ochsner Hare & Hare.


Charles E. Keyser is something of an enigmatic figure. Although he was the most prominent architect in Kansas City, Kansas from the mid 1920s up until the biginning of World War II, very little is known about his personal life or background.

Keyser's first projects in Kansas City, Kansas date from 1923 according to the entries found in Western Contractor, but he is first listed in the city directory in 1925. His office was originally in the Portsmouth Building, on the southwest corner of Sixth & Minnesota. In May 1925 he moved to the adjacent Merriam Building and kept his office there for the remainder of his career in Kansas City. At the time, he resided at 1412 North Sixth Street, Kansas City, Kansas, in an apartment building. His designs in this period included such prominent structures as the Washington Avenue Methodist Church, the "Ideal Home" in Westheight Manor, and the plant and offices of the new Kansas City Kansan newspaper. His residential work, while somewhat less than half of his practice, included at least eight other designs in Westheight Manor between 1923 and 1931.

Despite this activity, he was again omitted from the 1927 directory. In 1929, he is listed as living in Leavenworth, Kansas, while his own house in Westheight, at 2421 Washington Boulevard was under construction. He is listed at this address from 1930 to 1942, with his wife, Bernice. The year 1929 was significant for him in other ways as well, as he received the commission to design the Kansas City, Kansas City Hall Annex and Fire Headquarters, completing the work begun in 1911 by Rose & Peterson.

In the early 1930s Keyser's work consisted mostly of small commercial jobs. By 1935 he began to design factory and warehouse buildings in the Fairfax Industrial District. Most of these projects were for the Kansas City Industrial Land Company, a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad. Over the next six years there were at least eighteen Fairfax projects, making Keyser's practice prosperous.

As nothing is known about Keyser's background, one can only speculate about his probable architectural education. His designs in the '20s are above average examples of the various adademic revivals, with clean lines and a restrained use of ornament, the latter often in the form of carefully placed shields or heraldic devices in a repeating pattern. It was likely an easy step from this to his work in the 1930s, which was generally in the Art Moderne style. Perhaps the most notable example of the latter was the Anchor Savings and Loan building of 1937, with its blank wall of black vitrolite punctuated by a single large glass block window trimmed with polished aluminum. It should also be noted that Keyser was an accomplished renderer of his own designs, published examples including the Washington Avenue Methodist Church, the Kansan building, and the Chrysler Motor Parts Corp. warehouse.

At some point between 1942 and 1945, Keyser married his second wife, Revena, and acquired a new home in Prairie Village, although he continued to keep his architectural office in Kansas City, Kansas. His address in Prairie Village changed about 1949, from 2700 West 68th to 4000 West 68th. In 1957 he was listed with a partner for the first time, one Billy G. Asby, but this may have been the result of a desire to end his active practice. He is not listed in any of the local directories after this date, either as an architect or as a resident, so one must assume he either died or retired and left the city at that point, ending a distinguished career.


David Burton Peterson was born in Vandalia, West Virginia, on 29 June 1875, the son of Nicholas E. and Margaret V. (Hyre) Peterson. He grew up in West Virgina with a limited formal education, although at some point in his career he did special architectural work with Professor Gabriel Ferrand, head of the architecture department at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. The latter was likely some time after he settled in Kansas City in 1897.

For the first ten years of his residence in Kansas City, Peterson was employed as a carpenter. On 23 January 1901 he wed Elizabeth M. Hardy of Triplett, Missouri. By 1903 they were living at 408 Waverly Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas. The Petersons eventually had four children: Russell H. (1903), Ailene (1911), Karl B. (1914) and Paul E. (1917). In 1906, William W. Rose moved his architectural office from Kansas City, Missouri, to Kansas City, Kansas, and Peterson joined the firm as a draftsman and structural superintendent. His work must have been impressive, for just three years later, in December 1909, the young carpenter-turned-architect was made a partner and the firm renamed Rose & Peterson. Peterson eventually became a registered architect in the state of Illinois, at a time when neither Kansas nor Missouri required registration.

The production of buildings by Rose & Peterson continued for almost fifteen years. The firm's many notable designs in this period included a substantial number of schools, the result of Rose's position as official architect for the Kansas City, Kansas Board of Education. At the same time Rose & Peterson did the preliminary design and first phase of the Kansas City, Kansas City Hall, and the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, the City's public auditorium. The major exception to this apparent local dominance was the new Wyandotte County Court House of 1924-1927, whose architects, Wight & Wight, were chosen as the result of a competition.

The buildings designed by Rose and Peterson seem somewhat more polished than those designed by Rose alone, but that may be simply a reflection of changing architectural styles. Rose is generally credited with being the designer within the firm.

During World War I Peterson contributed to the war effort by working as an inspector in ship construction at Hog Island, Pennsylvania. At war's end he returned to this partnership with Rose. The school work alluded to above began with the passage of a major bond issue in 1921. Over the next four years some 25 different school projects, for additions, alterations, and at least eleven new buildings, were completed by the firm. Other projects were carried forward at the same time. The pressures must have been intense; in the summer of 1925, the firm dissolved, and Peterson and his wife left for an extended trip to Europe, eventually visiting eleven different countries.

On their return Peterson began an independent architectural practice. One of his first jobs, the completion of the Kansas City, Kansas Y.M.C.A. building at 8th Street & Armstrong, put him back into association with Rose, working on a building they had begun together in 1911. A third architect was also associated on the project; Harry F. Almon of Kansas City, Missouri, and the association must have proved to be congenial as the two were to work together again over the next two years. After years spent in Rose's shadow, Peterson must have been eager to show what he could do on his own. He got his chance in 1926, with the design of a residence for Francis Ryan at 609 North 17th Street. The new house adjoined Rose & Peterson's Fred Meyer residence of 1917-19, and the contrast is striking. Although both are fine designs, the Meyer house is dark, massive, and just a bit top-heavy. In comparison the Ryan house seems light and clean-lined, less original perhaps but more polished. Of particular note was the use of many-coloured terra cotta for ornamentation, including a highly original enframement of the front door.

The Ryan residence was to remain the high point of Peterson's independent practice. In 1927 he joined with Harry F. Almon to form the firm of Peterson & Almon, with offices in the Huron Building. Although the firm continued to design an occasional residence, most of their work was of a business or institutional nature. Most notable perhaps was the design for Washington High School, built in 1931-32. Here Art Deco ornamentation was used for the first time on a public building in Wyandotte County, with a golden tan brick similar to that of the Ryan house.

In 1928 Peterson and his wife moved to a house at 915 Grandview Boulevard. This was an older, two-story house adjacent to Northrup Park, without any particular architectural distinction. It seems a rather odd choice, but it may reflect the fact that, except for the occasional school commission, most of Peterson & Almon's projects were relatively small.

By 1932 with the Great Depression at its worst, Peterson and Almon began to work on commissions separately, and never jointly after the fall of 1933. No projects of any kind by Peterson can be identified past the spring of 1935, although the firm of Peterson & Almon continued to be listed in the City Directory through 1936. David B. Peterson died in 1937, at the comparatively early age of 62.


Joseph W. Radotinsky was born in Kirkwood, Missouri, in 1902, the son of Hungarian immigrant parents. He moved with his family to Kansas City, Kansas in 1909. By this time he was already drawing and sketching, including buildings and cartoons of family members.

As the family was poor, young Joseph worked for most of his early years, earning money by helping the janitor at his elementary school. During his years at Kansas City, Kansas High School, he milked cows at a dairy. Nevertheless, he was chosen class president during both his junior and senior years in high school. While studying architecture at the University of Kansas, he sold architect's and engineer's supplies and worked in the food concessions at KU sports events.

Following his 1924 graduation from KU, he studied at Columbia University while employed with a large New York architectural firm. While at Columbia he won a gold medal in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts architectural competition, and second prize in the LeBrun competition.

On his return to Kansas City, Kansas, he was able to secure appointment as State architect, a position he held for six years, through three successive administrations. It was while serving as State architect that he met his wife, Edna, who was employed as a secretary in the office. They wed in 1935, and had one daughter, Sandra Gayle. Radotinsky carried on a private practice in addition to his state position, and by 1931 was a partner in the firm of Archer, Gloyd & Radotinsky. From 1932 to 1935, the firm continued as Archer & Radotinsky, before Radotinsky and Arthur W. Archer again established separate firms. One house in Westheight Manor dates from this period, that of Kenneth L. Brown, Jr. at 1211 Hoel Parkway.

On 3 March 1934, a fire destroyed the old Kansas City, Kansas High School building, and Radotinsky resigned his position as State architect in the hope of securing the commission to design the new high school. In the interval, a selection committee was formed which unanimously recommended the hiring of the distinguished and experienced Chicago architectural firm of Hamilton, Fellows & Nedved. Despite the committee's recommendation, Radotinsky came within two votes of being named project architect. He was subsequently named as the local associate architect, although his contract was with the Chicago firm rather than with the Board of Education.

While the new Wyandotte High School was under construction Radotinsky was responsible for a number of local designs. These included the completion of the auditorium interior of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, an Art Moderne design that contrasts with Rose & Peterson's Neo-Classical building; Vernon Elementary School, a WPA project with a fine Art Deco bas relief over the entry; and the Dan Scherrer house in Westheight, perhaps Radotinsky's finest residential design.

Following the completion of Wyandotte High School in 1937, Radotinsky was named architect for the new Sumner High School. Lacking the larger school's extensive campus, Sumner nevertheless approached Wyandotte in the quality of its design. As with Wyandotte, the stylistic sources were diverse. Not just another Art Moderne design, it draws on the work of modernists such as the Dutch architect Willem Dudok and Eliel Saarinen, the Finnish-American architect whose work was to have a lasting influence on Radotinsky. The sculptural ornamentation around the main entry recalls the work of Frank Lloyd Wright in California in the early 1920s, as well as the Art Deco designs of New York architect Ely Jacques Kahn. And as with Wyandotte, despite the diversity of sources the design remains unified and coherent.

At the same time that work began on Sumner, Radotinsky was named associate architect on another major project, perhaps as much a tribute to his political skills as to his admitted accomplishments as a designer. In this case the project was the Kansas City, Kansas Food Terminal - the Public Levee - on Fairfax Trafficway, with the architects being Gentry, Voskamp & Neville of Kansas City, Missouri. The project included nine separate elements, three of which were not built. Radotinsky collaborated with Gentry, Voskamp & Neville on the Merchants Building and the unbuilt Parking Building and Garage, he was sole architect of the Cold Storage Building, the Farmer's Market sheds, and the unbuilt Auction Warehouse and Incinerator.

By 1938 Radotinsky was official architect for the Kansas City, Kansas Board of Education, beginning a long series of additions, remodelings and new buildings, as well as work for other local school boards. He carried out major additions to Argentine and Washington High Schools, and designed the Turner High School, as well as Corinth Elementary School in Prairie Village, Kansas. During World War II his work included Forbes Air Force base in Topeka, Kansas, and O'Reilly General Hospital in Springfield, Missouri. After the war his regional practice continued to expand, and he flew his own airplane in order to keep in touch with his various projects.

Among the best known of his later buildings were the American Hereford Association Building of 1951 in Kansas City, Missouri; the long-delayed Federal Building in Kansas City, Kansas; and the new Kansas City, Kansas Public Library and Board of Education Building. The library building, completed in 1965, exhibits in its interior detailing the influence of Eliel Saarinen. Radotinsky's last major building to be designed before his retirement in 1970 was the City-County Health Building in Kansas City, Kansas, which does not measure up to his work before.

Radotinsky's last years were at his Hereford farm near Wolcott in northwestern Wyandotte County. The farm had been purchased some years before, but had always been a hobby. "He was born to be an architect, not a farmer," his wife recalled, stating that she had teased him that his "architectural fees kept the farm going." Joseph W. Radotinsky died following a heart attack on 15 August 1983 at the age of 81, and was buried in the Highland Park Cemetery Mausoleum.


William Warren Rose was born in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York, on 12 March 1864, the son of George B. and Charlotte N. (Warren) Rose. He grew up in Ogdensburg, New York, and graduated from the Ogdensburg Academy in 1882. Following graduation he went to New York City where he studied architecture as an apprentice in the ofice of G. A. Schellinger. He then spent three years in the architectural offices of Charles T. Mott and the J. C. Cady Company. A first attempt to establish an independent architectural practice in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1885 was unsuccessful; while there he worked for Sutcliffe, Armstrong & Willett.

In December 1886 Rose arrived in Kansas City, Missouri. This move was followed by marriage on 14 November 1887 to Clara D. Grandy, a fellow New Yorker. The Roses had two children, Spencer G. (1891) and Pauline (1893). By 1889 the Roses were living in Kansas City, Kansas, and he had established an architectural partnership with James Oliver Hogg of Kansas City, Missouri, with offices in the Baird Building at Sixth and Wyandotte, Kansas City, Missouri.

Both Kansas Citys were booming in the late 1880s, and Rose was one of many young eastern architects who arrived to take advantage of the expansion then occurring. Hogg, born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1859, also came to Kansas City in 1886. He was better educated that his younger partner, having studied under Professor M. C. Rickes in the architectural program at the University of Illinois, and then as an apprentice to the well-known Chicago architect S. S. Beman.

Hogg & Rose, with their residences divided between the two cities, carried on a practice in both. For a brief time they even maintained an office in Kansas City, Kansas, in the Beard Building at 538 Minnesota Avenue. In 1891, Rose was appointed architect for the Kansas City, Kansas Board of Education, a position which he held until 1926. While this may have meant additional income for the firm, it may also have exacerbated any tensions between the two partners. The building boom ended in the Panic and depression of 1893, and the firm of Hogg & Rose dissolved in 1894.

Despite Rose's residence in Kansas City, Kansas, and his arrangement with the school board, he kept his office in Kansas City, Missouri, first in the Builders & Traders Exchange and then, after 1897, in the Postal Telegraph Building at 8th & Delaware. The Roses changed their residence in 1898, moving from 414 Troup to 415 Everett in Kansas City, Kansas. The Missouri office continued until 1906, when it was finally moved to Kansas City, Kansas during Rose's term as Mayor. A notable achievement during this period was the winning of second place in the competition to design the new Kansas City, Missouri Convention Hall, although he was almost disqualified when it was discovered that he lived in Kansas.

A member of the Scottish, Masons and Elks, Rose became very active in local politics, being called "...perhaps the boldest and most original political thinker that has attracted attention in Wyandotte County." A Democrat, he was a strong advocate of home rule and municipal ownership of the water system. In 1897 Rose ran for Mayor of Kansas City, Kansas. With extensive opposition against him, he lost to Robert L. Marshman, but by only six hundred votes.

Rose's next try for office was in 1905. He again ran for Mayor, and this time won by some eight hundred votes. At that time prohibition was in effect in the State of Kansas, but Kansas City, Kansas, with its large immigrant population was decidedly wet. Attempts to close the local saloons had never been successful, and large beer wagons made daily deliveries across the state line from Missouri. Rose refused to try to enforce the law, saying that it would cost the City $100,000 a year in fees from liquor licenses and in any case would be an exercise in futility. The State therefore brought an ouster suit against him on 23 September 1905.

The case against him was carried to the Kansas Supreme Court, and the Court issued an injunction prohibiting him from serving as Mayor. On 3 April 1906, three days before he was to be served with the ouster papers, Rose resigned, and then announced his candidacy for office in the special election called for 8 May to fill the vacancy.

He won by a majority of 1600 votes, and another injunction was secured against him. He violated the injunction by presiding over the city council, and the Supreme Court fined him $1000. Rose was finally forced to resign again on 7 September 1906. This time he backed a Democrat candidate, Michael J. Phelan, a railroad engineer, for Mayor, with the understanding that Rose would be "the power behind the throne". The opposing candidate was Dr. George M. Gray, who won the special election by only 260 votes. Dr. Gray's term of office lasted only five months, the shortest term of any Kansas City, Kansas Mayor. In the next regular election, in the Spring of 1907, Rose was free to run again and did so. He was defeated by Dudley E. Cornell, and thereafter retired from active politics to concentrate on architecture.

Rose's architectural work had proceeded concurrently with his political involvement. Before his term as Mayor, he designed two of the most prominent civic structures in Kansas City, Kansas; the high school completed in 1899 and the Carnegie Library completed in 1904. Following his ouster, Rose's career as a designer of public buildings continued unabated. In December 1909 he entered into partnership with David Burton Peterson. Peterson worked as a carpenter, and joined Rose's firm as a draftsman in 1906 when the office moved to Kansas City, Kansas. This new office was located in the Barker Building at 715 Minnesota Avenue.

The production of buildings by Rose & Peterson continued for almost fifteen years. The firm's many notable designs in this period included a substantial number of schools, many the result of a large bond issue approved in 1921. At the same time Rose & Peterson did the preliminary design and first phase of the Kansas City, Kansas City Hall, and the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, the City's public auditorium. The major exception to this apparent local dominance was the new Wyandotte County Court House of 1924-1927, whose architects, Wight & Wight, were chosen as the result of a competition.

The buildings designed by Rose and Peterson seem somewhat more polished than those designed by Rose alone, but that may be simply a reflection of changing architectural styles. Rose is generally credited with being the designer within the firm. There is an apparent stylistic consistency in Rose's work, with its rather free adherence to the Classical blended with interior touches of the Arts & Crafts. The principal variations to this Classical emphasis included the Kansas City, Kansas High School, executed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, and Rose's own house, completed in the Westheight Manor subdivision in 1923. The latter was strongly influenced by the Prairie School, suggesting that Rose's personal tastes were somewhat at odds with his professional practice, a dichotomy not uncommon among architects of the period. Rose's daughter and son-in-law, Pauline and Harry S. Gille, Jr., also lived in the Westheight house.

Rose's larger buildings can occasionally seem awkward or unresolved in appearance, as if the architect was uncomfortable with complex programs with varied uses. Smaller structures are a different matter. Of particular note are the elementary schools of the 1920s. Carefully proportioned and nicely detailed, these structures remain among the most attractive designs ever executed in Kansas City, Kansas.

The partnership of Rose & Peterson came to an end the late summer of 1925. Rose then formed a new partnership with Joseph A. Ridgway of Kansas City, Missouri, and Fred S. Wilson, a Rosedale architect who served as the staff engineer for the Kansas City, Kansas City Planning Commission. Wilson's participation in the partnership lasted less than one year. The firm of Rose & Ridgway kept an office in the Brotherhood Block at 8th & Minnesota. Rose suffered a nervous breakdown in the fall of 1928, and retired from active practice. Over the next two years, he spent much of his time in Florida, trying to regain his health. The handful of projects for Rose & Ridgway executed during this time must therefore be seen as largely the work of Ridgway. In 1930 the firm was formally dissolved.

Many of the buildings designed by W. W. Rose remain in active use. The principal losses are the Kansas City, Kansas High School, destroyed on 3 March 1934 in a spectacular fire, and the wonderfully ornate Carnegie Library, demolished by the Board of Education for a parking lot in 1965. W. W. Rose did not live to see these losses. He died in his home on Saturday, 23 May 1931, at the age of 67. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.


Charles Ashley Smith was born in Steubenville, Ohio, on 22 March 1866, the son of Augustine L. and Cynthia Loraine (Parker) Smith. The family moved to Iowa in 1874, where the elder Smith worked as a contractor and builder, while serving on both the Des Moines city council and the Board of Education. Taking after his father's work, Charles A. Smith was interested in architect at an early age. Following a public school education, at the age of sixteen he was able to secure a position with the architectural firm of Bell & Hackney, designers of both the Iowa and Illinois state capitol buildings.

When Hackney moved his office to Kansas City in 1887 to take advantage of the great construction boom then occurring, the 21-year-old Smith accompanied him as a draftsman. For a time, Hackney served as architect for the Kansas City, Missouri Board of Education, and Smith was made a partner in the firm of Hackney & Smith in 1892. One of the firm's most important surviving buildings from this period is the old Kansas City, Missouri Public Library, erected in 1895-97 with an addition by Smith in 1917-18. Also of note from 1895 were the twin residences for Ferdinand and Michael Heim, at 320 and 322 Benton Boulevard, Kansas City, Missouri.

Following Hackney's death in 1898, Smith assumed his position as official architect for the Kansas City, Missouri Board of Education. He retained this position for thirty-eight years, until 1936, establishing a solid reputation for the quality of his many school designs. He continued to do non-school work as well, most notably the Kansas City, Missouri YMCA building at 404 East Tenth Street, built 1907-09.

In 1910 Smith joined with Charles Rea and Walter Lovitt to form the firm of Smith, Rea & Lovitt. The firm lasted for ten year - Lovitt died in 1920 and Rea in 1921 - and was responsible for a number of large commercial designs. Among those were the now demolished Hewson Building at 1016 Walnut (1912), with its elegantly articulated facade of terra cotta, the Firestone Building (1915), the prestigious Kansas City Club (1918), and the original Hereford Assocation Building (later to become the Ararat Temple) at 300 West 11th Street, completed in 1920.

Among Smith's many school designs, one of the finest was for the Woodland School at 711 Woodland Avenue, built in 1921 to replace one of Kansas City's oldest school buildings. At the time of completion it was the largest elementary school in the city, with twenty-seven classrooms. It was of the Gothic Revival style with touches of the Romanesque.

Arthur F. Hall was a Kansas City, Kansas architect who worked as a job supervisor, first for Rose & Peterson and later for Smith, Rea & Lovitt. When Hall established an independent office in the Brotherhood Block in 1923, it also served as a branch office for Smith's firm. This led to a number of projects by Smith in Kansas City, Kansas, beginning with the George H. Gray residence in Westheight Manor, built in 1924. That same year saw the construction of the Tudor Style Fire Station No. 11 at 3100 State Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas, unusual in that such local commissions were rarely given to "outsiders". Smith's largest commission in Kansas City, Kansas was for the six-story Anderson Storage Co. Warehouse at 736-738 Armstrong, built in 1925. He also designed one school in Wyandotte County, the rural White Church Elementary of 1926-27.

By the late 1920s, Smith was in his sixties, hardly the age at which a successful architect might be expected to whole-heartedly embrace a new style. Yet that was what Smith did, with some of his finest designs being examples of the Art Deco style. The first hint of this was in the Capitol Garage at 1306-1310 Main Street, Kansas City, Missouri, erected in 1928. Here the detailing of the Gothic-inspired structure was already beginning to take on an Art Deco angularity.

Smith's firm then went on to design a number of significant local examples of the new style. Perhaps the most outstanding were his designs for the Woods Brothers Corporation's new Fairfax Airport in the Fairfax Industrial District, north of Kansas City, Kansas. These included the sales building and twin hangers (1929), and the Fairfax Airport Administration Building (1929-30) with its wonderfully detailed interiors. A third project, for a hotel and related shops, remained unbuilt. The Administration Building and hangers were demolished in 1987 to make way for a new General Motors automobile assembly plant.

Smith's Art Deco designs in Kansas City, Missouri have suffered similar fates. The Kansas City, Missouri Municipal Airport Administration Building was demolished to make way for a new facility, which was in turn abandoned when the main airport operation was moved. The Jenkins Music Company Building, a Gothic-flavored design of 1912 to which Smith added a south half and two upper floors with an elaborate Art Deco cresting in 1932, has been radically truncated, and now stands as a false front for a huge parking garage. Charles A. Smith did not live to see the demise of a significant part of his legacy to Kansas City. He died in 1948, at the age of 82.


Virtually nothing is known of Fred S. Wilson's background or personal life. He first appears in the city directory in 1910, as a draftsman for Kurfiss & Goddard, architects. At the time he was living at 515 East 9th Street in Kansas City, Missouri. The following year he was employed by Sanneman & Van Trump, and had moved to 4106 Holly. By 1912 he was working as a draftsman for the noted architect Louis S. Curtiss, where he stayed until the outbreak of World War I.

Wilson disappears from the city directories during the war years, and was presumably involved either as a serviceman or a civilian employee in the war effort. Following the war Wilson settled in Rosedale, at 4407 Rainbow Boulevard. In June of 1920, the Kansas City, Kansas City Planning Commission was formed, with noted planner and landscape architect George E. Kessler as planning consultant, and Wilson as staff engineer responsible for the preparation of maps and related documents. The chairman of the commission was Willard J. Breidenthal, and the members included Dr. David E. Clopper and Jesse A. Hoel, both of whom would subsequently provide Wilson with private commissions. As Wilson was with Curtiss during the design and construction of the Hoel house in 1916, Hoel may have been instrumental in getting him his appointment.

Wilson undertook private architectural commissions while serving as Planning Commission engineer, and the first had links to both Curtiss and Hoel. When the design of the house for Harry G. Miller, Sr. in Westheight Manor was announced in 1920, Wilson was listed as the architect. Miller recalled that the actual designer was Curtiss, however, with Wilson responsible for job supervision. Curtiss was a virtual recluse at the time, and visited the building only once during construction. Given the quality of the finished work both inside and out, Wilson must have been very in tune with the aims of his former employer.

Other projects followed over the years, most notable perhaps being the clinic building for Dr. Clopper and the funeral home for H. W. Gates. Late in 1925, Wilson entered into a partnership with William W. Rose and Joseph A. Ridgway in the firm of Rose, Ridgway & Wilson. But by September 1926, he had left the partnership and the firm continued as Rose & Ridgway. Wilson's position as Planning Commission engineer apparently ended at about the same time. There are no further building entries for Wilson in Western Contractor magazine, and he is last listed as an architect with an office in his home in the 1927 city directory. He then disappears completely from view, a distressingly enigmatic figure considering the range of his accomplishments.

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