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Built in 1923 of locally-quarried stone, this historic home serves as a reminder of the length of time between the growth of Kansas City and the growth of Leawood as a Kansas City suburb. In the 1920s, this part of the present-day metro area was a rural community, and the Voigt family maintained a farm spanning more than 250 acres. Over the next three decades, the Voigts raised a small crop and mostly supported themselves by buying and selling cattle. By the 1950s, the Voigt family sold off the vast majority of its land to developers as suburban sprawl started to reach this area. The family kept only ten acres of land around this house, which they gave to their daughter who lived in the home until 1992. There are still a few undeveloped areas in Leawood and nearby communities even as suburban sprawl continues south of this site for another ten miles. This home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

Herman J. and Ella B. Voigts House

Herman J. and Ella B. Voigts House

The Herman J. and Ella B. Voigts House, a Prairie-style home built in 1923, survives as a reminder of the area's rural character before evolving into a Kansas City suburban community. The Voigts managed an expansive farm spanning more than 250 acres, consisting mainly of cattle. Leawood was incorporated in 1948, a response more to real estate developers buying tracts of land rather than a large population, although that would change in the next few decades. The Voigt family sold the vast majority of the farmland in the 1950s to developers, leaving only ten acres and the now-historic home for her daughter, who stayed there until she passed away in 1992. Though the home enjoys a Prairie-style design, usually found in suburban homes throughout the Midwest, the locally-quarried stone in the house speaks to its farmhouse past.

In 1895 Mr. Voigts' father, Herman Henry Voigts, purchased 120 acres of farmland in northeastern Johnson County, which grew to 146 acres by 1902. Herman John Voigts moved onto the property in 1900, married Ella Busch in 1902, and then received the title to the land in 1906. By 1922, The Herman J. and Ella B Voigts farm spanned 218 acres. Herman and Ella initially lived in a two-story frame house with their two children on the site where the historic house now stands. In 1920, The Voigt's neighbor, Hans Lassen, proposed to Mr. and Mrs. Voigts to rent part of their farm to him for a dairy. Early in the spring of 1923, the Grant-Ready Company moved the Voigts two-story frame farmhouse down the hill to the dairy as a residence for the operator. Meanwhile, the construction of a new house began. The family lived in a small summer kitchen while the work on the historic house transpired, forcing Herman J and his son, Busch, to occasionally sleep in a barn.

The Voigts spent extra on the house to assure its durability, including employing a frame consisting of heavy 2" X 6" lumber and sheathing it with a veneer of local stone quarried on a farm one-and-a-half miles west of the house. The house design sought to take advantage of the eastern view, which they treasured. Thus the home is adorned by ample porches on both floors, mainly facing east. Although the Voigts house is a simplified and conventional example, its distinguishing features derive its inspiration from the American Prairie Style, which originated in Chicago at the turn of the century. However, while most Prairie School homes emerged in Midwestern suburban locations, the aforementioned use of local stone in the Voigts house reflects its origin as a rural residence; the suburban sprawl arrived after its construction.

Many ancillary farming buildings, such as barns and chicken houses, have been demolished, but the home itself still demonstrates the size and prosperity of the farm. Herman Voigts, who attended Missouri Valley College, bought and sold cattle and hogs as his primary occupation. Rather than winter cattle, he usually purchased livestock in the spring and sold them in the fall. The cattle, which made up the bulk of the farm, roamed hundreds of acres of bluegrass pastures, while the Voigts farmed such crops as winter wheat, potatoes, oats, and corn on the remaining land. 

While Herman and his children did much of the farm work, Ella handled the books. Notably, because when H. J. Voigts did more than just farm. He also held stock in seven banks, served as president of the First National Bank of Olathe, vice president of the City National Bank and the Patron's Bank of Olathe, and acted as a charter board member of the Overland Park Telephone Company. Additionally, he worked as a long-time member of the District 1 Board of Education, serving as treasurer from 1911 to 1953. Meanwhile, Herman and Ella's son, Busch, took an interest in flying despite his father's objections. In 1927 at the age of 17, Busch trained as a pilot. Eight years later, he took a job as a pilot for Trans World Airlines in 1935, a job he kept until he retired in 1970. His flying career allowed for long layovers, which allowed Busch to help his parents on the farm. 

Mr. Lassen retired in the early 1940s when the lease on his dairy expired, the first step towards the end of the Voigts farm and the area's transition to a Kansas City suburb. In 1952, Herman and Ella deeded the ten-acre tract surrounding the house to their daughter, Anna Lois Dubach. In 1959, the family sold all but those ten acres to developers, which speaks to Kansas City's growth and the associated suburban sprawl. Though the Voigts sold most of their land, Busch Voigts continued to complement his airline career with farming — he bought a farm in south-central Johnson County in the late 1950s. Meanwhile, Anna and her husband, Kenneth, lived with her parents in the historic home until they passed, Ella in 1956 and Herman in 1970. Anna stayed in the house until she died in 1992.

"About Leawood." City of Leawood. Accessed March 10, 2022.

Nimz, Dale E. "Registration Form: Herman J. and Ella B. Voigts House." National Register of Historic Places. 1994.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

By Glenn Kinyon - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,