Continuing “The Brookside Story” – Notes on Neighborhoods

Still reading LaDene Morton’s recent book “The Brookside Story” , and today I’ll write a few words about the Morningside Park subdivision and the various architecture styles found here. It’s so interesting to read a few pages..then go out and actually drive the areas she writes about.  Knowing more about the history of my neighborhood makes me appreciate it so much more.

Brookside had its beginnings in the early 1920s, and JC Nichols recognized the importance of the automobile.  He designed Brookside to be car-friendly…which is ironic, as today so many people want to live in Brookside specifically because it’s such a walkable community!  Nichols published a brochure, “A Scenic Route Through the Country Club District” for “pleasure driving” . This map is found in the book, and  takes you through Brookside, Mission Hills and the Plaza. One interesting note, at the top of the map is a headline:  200 ACRES RESTRICTED, which I assume means the area was for whites only.  The book doesn’t address the headline.

As Nichols was plotting the home sites, he created various  middle, upper-middle and high income housing but in a subtle way:  the larger, more expensive homes are to the west, and the homes gradually change as you go east.  The houses and lot sizes are different, but the exterior attractiveness of the homes are similar–there are no very sharp divisions.  To this day, home values are determined not only by lot and house size, but how far east or west of Main the home is located.  This plan ensured a variety of middle and upper income bracket residents for the area. 

Another residential developer for the area was Fletcher Cowhert, a colleague of Nichol’s. Although much older than JC, he too had travelled extensively in Europe and was impressed with how cities were planned there.  Fletcher created one of my favorite subdivisions in Brookside, Morningside Park.  General boundaries are 59th to 62 Streets, west of Oak and east of Brookside Boulevard.  The most  prestigious address in this area is on Morningside Drive–a wide street of larger homes and lots.  The homes surrounding Morningside Drive are still beautiful, but a bit more modest. Fletcher built 6140 Morningside Drive, a magnificent home,  for his son, Fletcher Jr

6140 Morningside Drive

There is a brochure cited in the Morton’s book, “Coherd Built Homes” that Fletcher developed to sell the subdivision.  It’s motto was ” The Standard of Value” and featured photos of the finished homes.  Inside, you can read this copy:  “The high degree of beauty and permanence in Coherd Built Homes has been and will be steadfastly maintained” .  Still true today–this is one of the prettiest areas of Brookside.

Next up in the book–details on retail development in Brookside through the years.  The photos are fascinating and oh so nostalgic.  I’m heading to the Kansas City Library next week to copy some of these photos for myself–they will be great wall decor in my house!

Thanks for reading my blog, your comments are welcome!  You can reach me directly at mary.hutchison@prukc.com or my website, www.maryhutchison.org

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