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Hanover Heights Historic District

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One-room schoolhouse

From the Kansas City, Kansas Planning Commission web site . . .

"In the l887 G. M. Hopkins Kansas City, Kansas atlas, the south and west roads were still the only ones in the Hanover Heights area. West 43rd Avenue was labeled as Shawnee Boulevard, while the north-south road was Hudson Avenue. The property was now broken into seven ownerships, four of them apparently the heirs of R. Fitzpatrick. A portion of the frontage along Hudson was platted as Miami Place, and a school was already in place at the northwest corner of the property, but the interurban line had not yet been built on what is now Olathe Boulevard. At this point the area was still outside the city limits of Rosedale. The school in question was the Malvern Hill School, District 39, a one-room, frame country school built in l876. Other than this, the area was still largely undeveloped."

"On April 8, l9ll, the Robbins Addition was platted by C. W. Robbins, completing most of the platting within the area. In that same year, the Hanover Heights neighborhood was finally annexed into the city of Rosedale, and the Malvern Hill School was replaced by Maccochaque School, a 2-1/2 story, eight-room building of brick completed in l9l2."

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KC Planning & Zoning - Hanover Heights Historic District

HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
(shortened version of KC Planning & Zoning web site - click on link above for full version)

The neighborhood now known as Hanover Heights was originally part of the Shawnee Indian reservation, established in 1825. In 1854, following the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Shawnee Reserve was drastically reduced in size and the remaining land divided into individual allotments of some 200 acres each. Most of the Shawnee soon sold their allotments (or were cheated out of them), but some managed to retain title until well after the Civil War.

The 1870 Heisler and McGee map of Wyandotte County shows the Hanover Heights area as being the property of R. Fitzpatrick, occupied by Hall and Wrenn's Nursery. R. Fitzpatrick was presumably Rebecca Fitzpatrick, a granddaughter of Captain Joseph Parks, one time Principal Chief of the Shawnee Nation. The roads forming the south and west boundaries of the neighborhood were already in place at this time, the south road being the old road that led from the town of Westport, Missouri to the Shawnee Indian Manual Labor School and Shawneetown beyond.

The town of Rosedale was platted in 1872 by James G. Brown and Abraham Grandstaff, in the Turkey Creek valley at a train stop on the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad. The initial center of the town was in what is now known as the Whitmore neighborhood. A post office was established on August 17 of that year, but real growth did not begin until 1875, when the Kansas Rolling Mill was located to the east of the little town. Incorporation as a city of the third class came on August 3, 1877.

As it was separated from Kansas City, Kansas by the Kansas River and the Shawnee Road ridge, Rosedale's orientation was always toward the adjacent Kansas City, Missouri. In the eastern and southern areas of Rosedale, even the street numbering system followed that of the Missouri city.

Rosedale's major link to Kansas City, Missouri was Southwest Boulevard, an extension of Rosedale's main street. The Boulevard was established in l887 largely through the efforts of Dr. Simeon B. Bell, a prominent landowner in the area. Rosedale became a second class city in l889 and a city of the first class in l897, at which time it had a population of over 2,000.

In the l887 G. M. Hopkins Kansas City, Kansas atlas, the south and west roads were still the only ones in the Hanover Heights area. West 43rd Avenue was labeled as Shawnee Boulevard, while the north-south road was Hudson Avenue. The property was now broken into seven ownerships, four of them apparently the heirs of R. Fitzpatrick. A portion of the frontage along Hudson was platted as Miami Place, and a school was already in place at the northwest corner of the property, but the interurban line had not yet been built on what is now Olathe Boulevard. At this point the area was still outside the city limits of Rosedale. The school in question was the Malvern Hill School, District 39, a one-room, frame country school built in l876. Other than this, the area was still largely undeveloped.

The first new plat in the area was filed on October 9, l890, for six lots at what is now the northwest corner of West 4lst Avenue and State Line Road. The owners of the new plat, called Hanover Heights, were Henry and Mary Gieseler, and it seems reasonable to assume that the Hanover referred to was the state in Germany. Other property owners within the area, such as Peter Muehlebach and Henry Thies, were also of German descent. Actual development was some time in coming, in part because of the Panic of l893 and the subsequent national depression.

The early l900s brought the development that served to both spur the neighborhood's growth and define its northern boundary. In 1904, construction began on the Missouri and Kansas Interurban Railway, popularly known as the Strang Line after its founder, William B. Strang. Beginning just across the line in Missouri, the interurban line ran southwest to Olathe by way of Overland Park, where the car barns were located. Its course across Peter Muehlebach's property became the present Olathe Boulevard.

The Continuation of Hanover Heights No. 2 was platted on July 28, l908 by Henry and Sophia Thies, and William R. and Leila Sanders. (The Sanders lived on Hudson Avenue, south of Malvern Hill School.) This was soon followed by the plat of Hanover Heights No. 3 on August 4, again filed by Henry and Sophia Thies. Three years later, on April 8, l9ll, the Robbins Addition was platted by C. W. Robbins, completing most of the platting within the area. In that same year, the Hanover Heights neighborhood was finally annexed into the city of Rosedale, and the Malvern Hill School was replaced by Maccochaque School, a 2-1/2 story, eight-room building of brick completed in l9l2.

The Muehlebach property along either side of the Strang Line was platted as Muehlebach Place in l9l3. (A near war broke out in that year, when Rosedale officials demanded that the interurban line be regraded to conform to the established street grades.) But despite all of the various activities within the area, actual home construction did not really get underway until about l9l4. Over the next l5 years, a full 75% of the houses within the neighborhood were built, a sizeable number of them in l920 and '2l. The water supply for this development came from Kansas City, Missouri, metered at the state line and resold to Rosedale residents at a slight profit, while electrical service was provided by the Standard Electric Light Company, a subsidiary of Kansas City Power and Light.

The anchor at the northwest corner of Hanover Heights was the Maccochaque Elementary School at 4107 Hudson Road (Rainbow Boulevard). A very attractive brick building of two and one-half stories, the school was designed by Owen and Payson and built in 1912. In 1924-25 the school was enlarged by the firm of Rose and Peterson to include twelve classrooms and an auditorium, and in 1932 a plot on the south side of the building was purchased for a school garden. In June, l958, the building and property were sold to the University of Kansas Medical Center for use by KU's nursing school, and the pupils transferred to Snow and Edison Schools. In the spring of l968, KU demolished the school building to provide more surface parking for the medical center.

With the school, bank, funeral home, and shops all in place by the mid l920s., Hanover Heights had reached its full growth, with only a handful of houses constructed after l929. Three other structures deserve mention, however. One of these is the house at 4l46 Cambridge, designed by Clarence E. Shepard and built in l922-23. This was the home of Judge Louis R. Gates (apparently unrelated to H. W. Gates), who played a very active role in the civic life of Rosedale. As both City Attorney for Rosedale and a State Representative, he was as much responsible as anyone for Rosedale's successful consolidation with Kansas City, Kansas in 1922. He was on the committee which oversaw the siting and construction of the Rosedale Arch, and for years was active in the drive to construct 7th Street Trafficway, linking Rosedale to the rest of Kansas City, Kansas. His home, perhaps the finest example of Prairie Style architecture in Kansas City, Kansas, was listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

One of the conditions of Rosedale's consolidation with Kansas City, Kansas was the construction of a new fire station "on the hill." Immediately adjacent to Hanover Heights, Fire Station No. 12 at 4224 Rainbow Boulevard was built in l923-24, and went into operation just a few months after the opening of the new Bell Memorial Hospital, forerunner of the University of Kansas Medical Center, three blocks to the north. Its architect, J. G. Braecklein, designed it in a Craftsman Bungalow style that made it very compatible with the houses in the neighborhood. It was designated a Kansas City, Kansas Historic Landmark in June, 1984.

The last structure to be noted was constructed some years after the bulk of the neighborhood had been developed. The Boulevard Apartments at l9l9 Olathe Boulevard was designed by Norman Wilkenson in l938 and built just to the west of the Gates funeral home. It was one of three Art Deco style apartment buildings erected in Kansas City, Kansas during the late l930s, possibly all designed by Wilkenson. But the others, across the street at the northeast corner of Olathe Boulevard and Eaton Street, and at the southeast corner of North 8th Street and Barnett Avenue on the south edge of the downtown, have both been demolished, leaving the Boulevard Apartments as the only apartment building of its kind in the city.

In the l930s only three houses were built in Hanover Heights, and just seven between l950 and l960. One of these was the residence of Frank Rushton at 4l34 Cambridge, built in l954. Although the Ranch Style house is not particularly notable in and of itself, Frank Rushton was of considerable significance. He followed his father as owner of the George Rushton Baking Company on Southwest Boulevard. He served with his future neighbor, Judge Gates, on the Rosedale Arch committee. And he was president of both the Rosedale Board of Education and later of the Kansas City, Kansas Board of Education, heading the latter at the time of Wyandotte High School's construction. The nearby Frank Rushton Elementary School was named in his honor.

In the years after World War II, Hanover Heights came under increasing pressure, both from commercial development along West 43rd Avenue and Rainbow Boulevard, and from an aggressively expanding University of Kansas Medical Center to the north. Many houses between Olathe Boulevard and West 4lst Avenue (including John L. Marshall's), were lost to KU along with Maccochaque school. But despite this, the core of Hanover Height retains its attractiveness and viability as a residential neighborhood, and in the last twenty years has been one of the few older neighborhoods in Kansas City, Kansas to see an influx of young professionals intent on rehabilitating the original residences. Location has obviously played a part in this, but many are undoubtedly attracted by the visual qualities of the area that give it its charm and architectural cohesiveness. Should this trend continue, the area may retain its position as a neighborhood of particular significance to Rosedale and Kansas City, Kansas.

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History Site created December, 2002

Page Updated 27-Jun-2011

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