In 1900 Troost Avenue from 75th to 78th Street was farmland well outside the limits. Within 50 years it became a thriving suburb and today it has been fully absorbed into the urban core of Kansas City. The 1909 annexation more than doubled the size of Kansas City. In the following decades, Troost from 75th to 78th was still relatively rural and undeveloped. An initial attempt to develop the area was initiated by the Methodist Church who were attempting to create Kansas City’s first university, Lincoln and Lee University and land was bought just west of Troost and 75th for the proposed university. While the initial plan never materialized, the project of building a university for the city was eventually undertaken by JC Nichols and William Rockhill Nelson, two of the wealthiest, and most powerful, individuals in Kansas City at the time. The 1925 atlas indicates this land as “University Acres.”
Comparing the state of the neighborhoods immediately surrounding UMKC – Countryside, the Plaza, Wornall-Homestead, and Brookside – to state of the neighborhoods around Troost from 75th to 78th demonstrates the impact the real estate market of the 1920’s and 30’s still has on the built environment, and the character of the city. The decisions and events that prevented Lincoln and Lee University from forming and countless other decisions have profoundly affected the daily lives of residents of the area, and the nature of the community.