On February 18, 2000, the historic Castle Rock was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). It’s also referred to as the A. Porter Davis Residence. It’s located at 852 Washington Boulevard in Kansas City, Kansas (Wyandotte County). The house is also listed on the Register of Historic Kansas Places and it’s a Kansas City, Kansas Historic Landmark.
In 1938, the construction of this house was completed for Dr. A. (Albert) Porter Davis and his family. Dr. Davis was a well-known African-American doctor. He practiced medicine in Kansas City, Kansas as early as 1913. As someone who could speak Spanish, he initially saw Mexican immigrants.
In 1953, Dr. Davis was the president of the National Medical Association. He was also one of the first African-Americans to obtain a pilot’s license.
Castle Rock was designed by Raymond J. Buschhusen. The architectural style falls under Late 19th and 20th Century Revivals and French Eclectic. The L-shaped house contains two stories. It was constructed out of rusticated limestone. The foundation is limestone and the walls are limestone and brick.
At the time the house was nominated for the NRHP, it was privately owned and Mrs. Davis was still living in the house at that time. The house is located at the corner of Washington Boulevard and 9th Street.
Dr. A. Porter Davis
Dr. A. Porter Davis was interested in medicine (he was a physician and surgeon), aviation, art, and politics. His home, styled in French Eclectic, was a popular design after World War I and there were few found of that type in the city.
Dr. Davis was born in Palestine, Texas on November 13, 1980. He married Hazel White on September 1, 1926. Hazel taught school in Kansas City, Kansas. They had a daughter. Dr. Davis also had two daughters from a previous marriage who are both deceased.
Dr. Davis graduated from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee in 1913, and received his medical license from the State of Kansas. When he attended the University of Kansas, he learned the Spanish language.
Dr. Davis set up his office in the Argentine neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas. He was able to communicate in Spanish with the immigrant Mexican railroad workers. He also had an office in Kansas City, Missouri in the 18th & Vine area. He eventually officed in downtown Kansas City, Kansas.
Dr. Davis founded the Davis Maternity Sanitarium for Unwed Mothers in 1920. This facility operated until the 1940s. These patients needed a place to go due to the effects of racial segregation.
The sanitarium provided a range of services, including education, prenatal care, and adoption assistance if requested. The sanitarium remained in operation for over twenty years. (Source.)
From 1926 to 1932, Dr. Davis was the first African-American physician appointed as Assistant Health Director in Kansas City, Kansas. From 1940 to 1942, and from 1950 to 1952, he served as Deputy Coroner of Wyandotte County, Kansas. In 1953, he was Chairman of the Board of Trustees and served as President of the National Medical Association. This association was primarily for black physicians who weren’t allowed to join the American Medical Association.
Dr. Davis was on the staff at the Wheatley-Provident Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, and Douglas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas. He was also a member of other professional and civic organizations.
Interestingly, Dr. Davis also pursued aviation and learned to fly at the Richards Air Field in Kansas City, Missouri. He earned a pilot’s license in May 1928, and he purchased an airplane. It’s believed that he was one of the first African-Americans to receive certification for flying in the United States.
In 1939, Dr. Davis was voted by the National Airman’s Association to receive the Dwight H. Green Trophy for his contributions to aviation that year. In 1942, he was listed in the Who’s Who in Aviation.
In the mid-1940s, Dr. Davis bought several homes in the 800 and 900 blocks of Washington Boulevard and Nebraska Avenue which he renovated and rented out. They weren’t far from his own home. In 1953, Dr. Davis established a mobile home park at 59th and State Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas, which was in their family until the 1990s.
Dr. Davis promoted racial equality and was active with the NAACP during the 1940s. He was also a public speaker. He was a man who wore several hats.
Construction of Castle Rock
After experiencing some financial challenges, which Dr. Davis recovered from, in late 1935, he purchased some lots which would be the site of the historic home. Earlier that same year, he commissioned plans from architect Raymond J. Buschhusen. The house that used to be at the corner of Washington Boulevard and 9th Street was relocated. The Davises lived there while the Castle Rock dwelling was being constructed. The house was built from 1936 until the summer of 1938.
When the house was completed, there was an open house where many attended. The house included fireproof construction, central heat and air conditioning, and a wine cellar.
With all the hats Dr. Davis wore, he had an interesting life. “Dr. Davis was a man of many talents: physician, surgeon, pioneer aviator, actor, songwriter, civil rights activist and real estate developer.” (Source.) In 1969, he started experiencing health issues. He spent the remainder of his life at his home of Castle Rock. He died in September 1976, at age 85. Mrs. Davis continued to live in the house. She passed away on December 8, 2003, at age 99.
Thanks for reading. There’s always a story in a story with many of the historic dwellings. While some of the buildings are incredible, sometimes the people who lived in them are special too.