The historic neighborhood and streetcar suburb of Squier Park in mid-town Kansas City developed in the 1880s | CJ Coombs

Manheim Road in Squier Park (1920).Public domain, Wikimedia Commons.

The image above was taken in 1920. It was captured as part of Squier Park in midtown Kansas City Missouri. It’s part of a historic neighborhood that includes 16 blocks inside Armour Boulevard to the north, Paseo Boulevard to the east, 39th Street to the south, and Troost Avenue to the west. In 2012, this area was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

James J. Squier and his son-in-law, Robert V. Jones, developed this neighborhood between 1887 and 1915. As this area was developed adjacent to the city’s transportation lines, Squier Park is thought to be an early streetcar suburb.

Squier Park

There is a variety of building designs in Squier Park, especially since had been developed over a long period of time. Also, there were different types of architectural styles from different time periods.

Some of the homes in the neighborhood had similar basic designs while a lot of homes on the south end were architect designed.

The architectural styles of Prairie School and Craftsman were the most common. There are also some that fall under Colonial Revival, Classical Revival, and Tudor Revival.

The early days

Those considered upper-middle class in Kansas City were the first owners of Squier Park homes. This included people who were successful in their businesses, lawyers, company presidents, or managers of various businesses. Two worth mentioning as residents were the co-owner of Katz Drug Store, Michael Katz, and Johnny Kling who played baseball. The Beth Shalom Synagogue located at 34th and Troost had members who lived in the neighborhood.

Squier Park showed a decline when the depression hit. Rooming houses were made from large houses. There weren’t as many moving into the suburbs after World War II began. People were moving away and soon, Troost Avenue was like a dividing line in the city. At around the same time, there were Catholic groups buying property in Squier Park. This neighborhood started to see a revival in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

What is Squier Park like today?

In 2012, the Squier Park neighborhood was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and this neighborhood is the second residential district east of Troost Avenue to be listed.

Today, the Squier Park Neighborhood Association is active in organizing events and also has improvement projects in the neighborhood, and has routine neighborhood meetings.

Early days with James Squier and Robert V. Jones

James J. Squier moved to Kansas City in 1872 where he purchased cattle for the Fowler packing house. Before this, he was in Chicago. He was born in Pennsylvania in 1836 and later moved to Cambridge, Ohio where he and his father had a hardware store. He also had a store in Chicago where he became very successful in the business of cattle.

Squier and other wealthy people in KanCity founded the Citizens’ National Bank in 1882 and seven years later, he founded Interstate National Bank. These banks were chiefly banks for cattlemen.

Squier purchased land between 36th and 41st Streets, and Troost and Paseo. The Kansas City limits were also stretching further sought as well as east close to his property so he divided his property into lots hoping to develop a residential area. By 1900, however, there were only several lots that had homes on them.

Squier died in 1900 at age 64, and his estate was left to his wife and daughter. They stayed in the estate until his daughter, Cora, moved east where she met a residential developer named Robert Valentine Jones. They married at Squier Manor in 1902.

Cora and her husband lived in Philadelphia until 1908. Jones formed Manheim Realty & Investment Company, a real estate and mortgage company, hoping to develop something with the lots that were still empty. Jones was able to come up with a new plan to subdivide the land between 37th and 39th Streets. He worked with architects and buildings as well as homeowners with the goal of designing high-style homes in the subdivision.

By 1920, the neighborhood was filled with architect-designed homes. Other prominent architects like Louis Curtis, Nelle E. Peters, and Smith, Rea & Lovett were designing homes in Squier Park. There were many others. Jones wanted each home to have a home that was unique.

Squier Park is a highly intact residential neighborhood that retains the configuration and the high-style architectural diversity envisioned by developer Robert V. Jones. It retains sufficient integrity of location, setting, design, materials, and workmanship to convey its associations with the period of significance. (Source.)

In 1925, Robert and Cora divorced. The remainder of the property on which Squier Manor was located was sold. The new owner tore down the residence for developing the whole lot into Squier Manor Community Center. This would include businesses, apartment buildings, a hotel, and a theater. This never happened though, and in 1930, the whole block was divided for residential development.

One of the most prominent early ‘Community Builders’ in the country was J. C. Nichols of Kansas City. Robert V. Jones (Squier Park, 1908), a contemporary of Nichols, was a ‘Community Builder.’ (Source.)

By the start of World War II, what Jones wanted to occur with real estate development finally started to happen.

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