The Valentine Neighborhood in Kansas City

February 13th, 2010

The Valentine neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri began to be developed as a housing district in 1897.  Prior to that, the neighborhood changed like a chameleon to accommodate the whims of a growing population and enlarge the fortune of the man who bought the land, accurately predicting that it would eventually become an integral part of a bustling young city.

 

 

That shrewd man’s name was Allen B.H. McGee.  He was the first white man to own property in this neck of the woods.  He bought 160 acres of densely wooded property located one hour north of Westport (by mule cart that is).  

 

 

 

 


McGee cleared the land, farmed the land, traded with the Native Americans, and outfitted the wagon trains as they came through.  

 

 

 

He also bought and sold mules, worked as a surveyor, built a store and operated the second tavern to open in Westport.  

 

 

 

He very wisely buried his silverware in his large stone barn to protect it from roving bands of marauders.

 

 

 

His first house was a simple log cabin.  He slept on a bed made of grass.

 

 

 

 

His first wife came from Kentucky.  She died.  He married her sister.  She died.  He married a local girl.  

 

 

 

 

The local girl, Susan Gill managed to survive the marriage.

 

 

 

 

 

McGee and Susan moved from his primitive log cabin to a new white frame house on his farm.

 

 

 

 

He decided to use a portion of his farm for agricultural fairs and small stock shows.  

 

 

 

 

These small stock shows would eventually become the American Royal.

 

 

 

As the nearby population expanded, the need for entertainment also increased.  

Horse racing became the rage.

 

 


Wise old McGee built a racetrack on his land.

 

 

 

 

The resulting cash flow led to McGee building a mansion in 1888.  The home was famed for it’s splendor throughout the young city.

This mansion was razed in 1917 and the bricks were used to build the Rochambeau Hotel.

 

 

 

In 1897 Allen McGee Junior tore down the large barn that had so sneakily preserved the family silver from the marauding bands and built himself a mansion from the old stones.

 

 

 

In 1897, the McGee family farm/fairgrounds/racetrack was turned into neighborhood developments.

 

 

 

 

And the 160 acre McGee family farm became the Valentine neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri.

 

 

 

And now to conclude this historical walk around Valentine, we shall read a poem by the blogger known as Rechelle.

Ahem!

The vision of a farmer (trader, barkeep, outfitter, used mule salesman, etc,etc) named McGee

Is how this lovely old neighborhood came to be.

On a lovely fall day, you can enjoy it for free

Please don’t fall and scrape your knee

Or get yourself stung by a honey bee

Tee hee hee.  Tee hee hee.

(On second thought, let’s skip the rhyme and move straight onto refreshments.)

Comments

  • Cheyenne:

    Wow, what a beautiful neighborhood. I love walking around places like this and daydreaming about what it would be like to live in one of theose houses. I was thinking the same thing about your friend’s house in England. It looked like a lovely place too. I hope you and Calder are having a great time in NY and not freezing anything off!

  • Martha in Kansas:

    Lovely! And a nice concise history. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the insides of these houses?! And to have seen them in their heyday as well. What lovely lawns they have. I can’t get away from the office right now, but this was a nice break for a walking tour. Thanks!

  • Martha in Kansas:

    You know, when my aunts were young women growing up in KC, they’d read about the hoi-poloi of the city, look them up in the phone book, pile in the car and go see where they lived. These big old houses always make me think of these girls cruising around, undoubtedly giggling over their snoopiness.

  • km:

    Dear Rechelle, this is fascinating.
    When you come to New England we’ll go to Newport and do some tours. You’ll love it. I promise

  • Anonymous:

    Rechelle, I love your architectural posts. And the facts that go along with them. And would someone please please come build me some gardens like the 4th to last photo? Because I. Want. : )

  • Beautiful homes! I grew up in KC – how had I never heard of this neighborhood before?!

  • AngAk:

    beautiful! I just love taking walking tours of old neighborhoods. If you walk around at night, you can catch a glimpse of the inside of the homes, if the lights are on and curtains open—from a distance, not in a peeping tom creepy kinda way!

  • I love learning history especially when accompanied by lovely photographs. Thanks for sharing this beautiful neighborhood.

  • LucyJoy:

    Thanks for the wonderful tour, Rachelle!

  • joann in tx:

    wow! what cool history in kansas city, missouri!

    look like a lot of homes in the suburbs of Pittsburgh where i grew up! large family home. the three original homes on the street from the 1800′s are still there!

  • Joy:

    There is just something about old houses that makes a person nostaligic. Lovely photos and lovely homes. Happy Valentines Day Everyone.

  • You’ve come full circle for me-it was another series of pictures, well- captioned when I first “met” you. I love those photo tours-and your explanations. Also love your candor, no matter the subject.

  • Erin from Iowa:

    I enjoyed this very much. :)

  • Kristin:

    Sigh…now if KCMO could just get the schools in better shape. We really wanted to buy an old house south of the river when we moved here, but went north instead because of the schools.

  • Kim K. in Western PA:

    Thank you so much for this beautiful house tour. I am so partial to the beautiful four square that is about the 7th pictue down. Lovely homes, lovely photography.

  • Oh darn! I was in Kansas City last summer, but missed this neighborhood!! Too bad!

  • Trudy:

    These old homes have such charactor. The stonework is amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  • randle:

    Doing genealogical research and am hoping someone will know the location of the old Rochambeau Hotel (now defunct). Thanks!

    • Rechelle:

      Sorry Randle – I don’t know the location.