The historic home of Dr. James Compton was built around 1829 in Kansas City, Missouri. It's also been referred to as Sandy's Oak Ridge Manor Tea House. When it was originally built, it was a log home. Through the years, it expanded by the Compton family through 1952. This house was in the Compton family from 1844 to 1954—that’s 110 years! Once a “center of social life,” it serves as a reminder of what it was like in the pioneer days when you go there.
The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) on July 10, 1979. Other structures on the property that are part of that listing include a guest house and a blacksmith shop. This home is one of the oldest surviving dwellings in Kansas City. You might recognize it if you've been there. It’s now a popular and well-liked restaurant serving up comfort food: Stroud's Oak Ridge Manor Restaurant and Bar.
There weren't major alterations to the home. To the southeast corner of the home, a carport was added and a kitchen and dining room were added to the northwest corner. In 1958, a log cabin (imitation) chapel was built.
The Comptons were a prominent family in Clay County
Dr. James Howard Compton was born on February 9, 1815, in Prince William County, Virginia. His drive to go west was stronger than studying to become a dentist.
In 1834, Compton relocated to Platte County, Missouri and he was there for a while running a mercantile business in Platte City. In 1840, he and Mary Anne Wirt married. Mary was from Shelby County, Kentucky. Her father was George Wirt and he moved his family to Clay County in 1833.
After John and Mary got married, they lived on the Wirt farm until relocating to the property that became the restaurant many years later. The Comptons had several children who attended a private school known as the Sugar Tree Grove Academy.
In 1844, Compton purchased the Oak Ridge property. There were originally two log cabins constructed in 1829 and they were close together with a walkway in between.
The log construction is still visible on the interior of one of the rooms. (Source.)
The Comptons were known for their Southern hospitality. Christmas was a popular time with many guests coming over to celebrate. Wild berries and greenery collected from the farm were used to decorate.
After the Civil War, “remaining house servants continued to live on the farm many years as respected members of the household.” Farm life was organized as each family member had a designated responsibility. Mrs. Compton knitted stockings and mittens for the family and servants. The main crops raised on the farm were wheat and cotton.
One activity on the farm was called the sugar camp. They bore holes in maple trees and sap was collected from the spigots. Those who came to the camp were fed and entertained.
Interestingly, the Comptons owned the first cooking stove in their area. Their neighbors would come to see it. One year, the turkey for Thanksgiving was burned because the women basically only had the experience of cooking over an open fireplace to go by.
The Comptons were members of the Antioch Christian Church, which building is also listed on the NRHP. The church was known for holding annual strawberry festivals. In 1929, due to road construction, the church couldn’t hold the festival but it carried on at the Compton’s place. Entertaining groups of people was what the Comptons did, and they apparently loved doing so.
In 1944, Compton’s daughter, Emma, who was in her 80s at that time, took in 500 guests to help celebrate the family’s 100 years of residency on the property. There was no running water or electricity then.
James Compton died on October 30, 1878, at age 63. After he died, the only son, George Thomas Compton, continued to operate the farm. Mary Ann Compton died in 1895, and with the exception of Emma, the other daughters moved away after marrying. Emma stayed at the farm, and died on November 27, 1953, at age 93.
Changes occurred with the farm no longer being a working farm. Sometimes it was rented out. During the 1890s, the founder of Jenkins Music Company would rent it annually for a week. Mr. Jenkins wanted his family to see what it was like to live in the country.
In 1954, Emma Compton sold the house to Louise Sandstrom. Even then, fireplaces were used to heat the home and kerosene lamps were used to light it. The residence was modernized by Louise, but she maintained the integrity of the home. She opened a restaurant called Sandy’s Oak Ridge Manor. It’s amazing that when Emma sold the home, all the furnishings remained.
Today, the property houses Stroud's Oak Ridge Manor Restaurant and Bar, which continues to preserve history and make a lot of its customers happy
Thanks very much for reading!
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