Scofield Hall, formerly known as the Dickey mansion, was the first building used for the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC).
Walter S. Dickey, Kansas City businessman in the early 1920s, migrated from Toronto, Canada with his wife in 1885.
Dickey was known for his business success in the clay pipe industry and later for his failed business ventures, including the merging of the Post and the Journal newspapers competing with the Kansas City Star.
At the height of his success and fortune, Dickey built a mansion on 20 acres of wooded slopes near the intersection of 51st St. and Rockhill Road.
In 1912, Dickey began construction on the five-story residence with the help of an architect and builder from New York City.
The construction took two years to complete and cost $750,000.
The mansion boasted nine fireplaces, 20 bathrooms, a swimming pool and billiards in the basement and servant’s quarters among the 30 rooms. Besides the mansion, the property had a pond, a greenhouse and a smaller building (carriage house) to the northeast that served as a garage, power plant and caretaker’s home.
The home was considered to be “upside down” on its interior construction. The kitchen and dining room were located on the third floor while the bedrooms were on the second. From the second and third floors is a five-mile view to the north of Kansas City.
Dickey died in January, 1931, shortly after his millions of dollars in investments vanished and he became millions of dollars in debt.
Kansas City philanthropist, William Volker, acquired the estate after Dickey’s death. Volker presented the home as a gift to the proposed University of Kansas City in 1929.
On October 1, 1933, the first building was dedicated and officially opened its doors with 17 faculty members and 264 students.
The building was then called the Administration Building (‘Ad Building’) and used for the bookstore, admissions, all university offices, the library and most of the classrooms.
Carleton F. Scofield, the last President of the University of Kansas City and the first chancellor of UMKC, was instrumental in the transition of the University from a private to public institution.
The Dickey mansion, now called Scofield Hall, is a building houses many offices including the department of foreign languages and the dean of arts and sciences.
The mansion was built with excavation from the land it was purchased on. The pond is the result of the hole left from the excavation. Flarsheim Hall and Miller Nichols Library now occupy the place where the lily pond was.
After it was donated to the University, the southeast terrace of the house was used for major convocations and the annual commencement. The thousands of attendees would be seated in chairs filling what is now the ‘Quad’.
The home was made of structural steel wainscoting, copper plumbing and the walls were hollow tile and faced with hand-cut stone. This made the home fire-proof and one-of-a-kind for the time period.
Seven bedrooms and five bathrooms occupied the second floor.
The fireplace in the former President’s business offices is made of marble imported from Italy.
In the 1920’s, the 20 acres the home was built on was considered “out in the country”.
The master bedroom and guest room were in the east wing.
All information for this article was compiled with assistance from Nancy Piepenbring, manuscript specialist with the Western Historical Manuscript Collection at UMKC.
For more information visit http://www.umkc.edu/WHMCKC.