Aug 16, 2022The Historic Church House of Saint Augustine’s at 2732 Benton Boulevard, Kansas City

The Historic Church House of Saint Augustine’s at 2732 Benton Boulevard, Kansas City

St. Augustine’s Church House at 2732 Benton Boulevard, Kansas City, Missouri. Image: Gary Allman

Brett D Kynard Five-minute read.   Resources

Santa Fe Place was 520 Acres of land purchased by John Thornton in 1827. Thornton established a grain mill and grain distillery for travelers on the Santa Fe trail, and people in the Westport and Kansas City areas. Solomon Allen purchased the remainder of the property from the state of Missouri. In 1836 Thorton and Allen sold the property to Jones and Rachel Lockridge a wealthy Kentucky family. They had five children and owned slaves. The Lockridge family legally restricted ownership of the property to their five children. At that time ownership was managed by land transfers between the Lockridge family members. These property covenants in deeds running with the land would later evolve to prohibit the sale and purchase of property to African Americans. They remained in place until the Supreme Court case of Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948), which struck down racially restrictive housing covenants.

By 1915, Santa Fe Place had the reputation of being “the place to live” for the rich and powerful in Kansas City. Santa Fe Place was platted in 1897 as one of the first planned neighborhoods in Kansas City, and the only one that has retained a significant degree of architectural integrity.

Santa Fe Place became the first major residential neighborhood in Kansas City where upper and middle-class African Americans settled in a residential area that reflected their educational and economic backgrounds. Santa Fe Place was a unique mixture of wealthy and middle-class residents. It was also diverse racially.

Santa Fe Place was dominated by bungalow and shirtwaist styled homes. The bungalow home provided a way to dignify housing for the laborer as well as for the lawyer at a modest cost. It was one and one-half story with a standard floor plan of five rooms and a bath on the first floor; attic space under the dormers could be trim, oak floors, and a gas fireplace flanked by oak bookcases. Over 170 of the neighborhood structures were bungalows. The Predominant house style with over 370 buildings was the “Shirtwaist” House. A shirtwaist house was a basic box shape often broken by projecting elements. Usually, there were three or four bedrooms and one full bath. Stained woodwork and decorative wood-beamed ceilings were common features. Adding to this structure were fireplaces and stained or cut-glass windows.

There were also examples of “architectural high styles” or mansions located on Benton Boulevard which is an expansive corridor lined with large oak shade trees. The High styles represented the developer’s desire for the neighborhoods with architectural refinement. In 1910, 2732 Benton Boulevard also known as the “Foresman Residence” was constructed and purchased by Joseph H. Foresman. It was one of several mansions in Santa Fe Place. It was an eclectic style 21/2 story brick, frame, and· stucco residence with an English tile green gable roof. A pergola supported by Doric columns lead from the west facade to a 11/2-story brick carriage house. It possessed a grand ballroom on the top level and a massive porch at the front. It was the creation of a prominent local architectural firm of Sanneman, Abt & Vantrump.

St. Augustine’s on 1025 Troost Boulevard. Date unknown.

Foresman was recognized by Mr. Long president of RA Long lumber company as one of his most successful yard managers. He achieved marked success as an auditor. In January 1902, Mr. Long organized the Minnetonka Lumber Company headquartered in Oklahoma City. Mr. Foresman was elected secretary and general manager of the company. He also became one of the stockholders of the institution. Foresman moved to Kansas City on November 15, 1903, to assume his corporate duties. He was also at that time elected a director of the company. The company grew into one of the largest conglomerates of wood products of the era, with holdings in many states and under many subsidiary names, and was sold to International Paper in 1956.

Mr. and Mrs. Foresman were prominent in church and civic affairs in Kansas City for many years. He was credited with having had charge of the Linwood Boulevard Methodist Episcopal church at Linwood and Olive, and also built the Kansas Building of the National Training School for Deaconesses and Missionaries at 15th Street and Denver Avenue. Joseph H. Foresman and his wife lived in the residence till 1926. Foresman sold the residence to Saint Augustine’s Church in 1950. At that time, the church on Troost was rapidly increasing in size. Confirmations, baptisms, and membership necessitated a larger church. That same year, the communicants voted to become a self-sustaining Parish.

At the 1950 Diocesan Convention held at Saint Paul’s church in Kansas City, Missouri, Saint Augustine’s Parish was formally admitted into The Diocese of West Missouri. Father Robert A. Martin was the first rector to serve at the new location. Father Martin followed the tradition established by Father Whitlock, and Father Spatches before him, and aggressively recruited church members through a neighborhood canvassing technique. He and church members went door to door through the neighborhood. Father Martin and the church’s strong Vestry and Women’s organization collectively were the major catalysts for change at Saint Augustine’s and its future vision and goal of relocating from 1025 Troost Boulevard where its ministry had served the community for 68 years. Father Martin lived in the residence and he and his wife raised his daughters there.

St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, with the former church and now church house in the background. Image: Gary Allman

In November 1960 Bishop Welles officiated at a ceremony to lay the first cornerstone on a new church to be built on the plot. On November 23, 1961, the altar was blessed, and the new church was formally dedicated on March 11, 1962. The parish house now served as an administrative and social center for the church.

On September 8, 1980, The Parish House of Saint Augustine’s was listed on the Kansas City Register of Historical Places. On May 30, 1986, it would also be listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Santa Fe Place Historic District of Kansas City, Missouri.

Brett D. Kynard is a member of St Augustine’s Episcopal Church, St. Augustine’s Church Historian, and a former acolyte.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top