Sunday, March 1, 2009
Drummond's First Houses - Prairie Village, KS - The J.C. Nichols Connection - Part Two
This is a current photo of Don Drummond's first house in Kansas. Not necessarily what we think of as a "Modern" house, but it had many new distinctive features of it's day. (Click on Images to Enlarge) It also is the beginning of a significant relationship between builder and architect. After WWII, in 1946, Don had been building smaller, lesser expensive houses in KCMO...wanting to grow his business, he was encouraged by his Father-in-Law, Judge Woodruff to build in the emerging community of "Prairie Village" in the Country Club District as it was called by J.C. Nichols. In 1946-47, Don built his own home as a model to live in and to show to potential clients. With "Mr. Nichols" urging him to have an architect design his houses, Don engaged David Runnells to design his first home in PV. Don and his wife, Francie had met David Runnells, when Francie was on the Land Planning Committee for the "Western" Highway, known as 56 Hwy or Hwy 50 then, or now known as Shawnee Mission Parkway. Nichols was not a modernist, though he did believe in new home innovations, he was more concerned with what would sell and in his opinion maintain property values in his developments. Though not modern looking, the house had some pretty unique features such as the brick wall at the entry which continued inside, kitchen in the front and the living area with fireplace in the rear of the house with what would then be considered a lot of windows. Don tells a story of a rumor in the neighborhood that "peeping toms had moved in" so they could watch the actions of their neighbors...he laughed and said, " it took some getting used to for people as I built others in the neighborhood".... We have a 1947 promotional film showing this house with stained siding, the ample windows in back, kids riding trikes in the driveway and cars driving down 67th St. near Delmar, kicking up dust on the gravel road...hardly any trees in sight...just imagine PV without trees... the Drummonds stayed here until they moved into their Runnells designed modern house near 69th and Belinder in 1951.