Kansas City, KS

Judge Louis R. Gates Residence in Kansas City, Kansas: a historic landmark designed by Charles E. Shepard

CJ Coombs

Correction: The location of Baker University in Kansas was corrected.

Judge Louis Gates House at 4146 Cambridge Street, Kansas City, Kansas.Photo byJonathunder, GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Judge Louis Gates Residence is interesting at first glance, particularly with the design of the constructed windows next to the stone exterior. Not every historic structure is inviting to the eye, and can’t always be judged by its exterior. Every building has played a role in history attached to a family, a business, or a community. 

  • On July 3, 1979, the Judge Louis Gates Residence was added to the Register of Historic Kansas Places. 
  • On December 1, 1980, the home was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
  • On August 26, 1982, the home was designated a Kansas City Historic Landmark.

The Judge Louis Gates Residence faces east and carries the architectural style of Prairie School. At the time the house was nominated for the NRHP, it was privately owned and occupied. This two-story home has a one-story extension in the rear containing a breakfast room as well as another entrance. 

The home's first floor contains the kitchen, dining room, and living room. The second floor contains a bathroom and three bedrooms. The house has a side porch that’s supported by stone pillars. The steps on the exterior and the floors of the side porch are brick. The windows are so attractive. 

Architect Clarence Erasmus Shepard

The house was built in 1922–1923. The architect was Clarence E. Shepard. He practiced his design work in the Kansas City metropolitan area. 

Shepard was born in the rural town of Cortland, New York on October 27, 1869. He spent his youth in Clay Center, Kansas. When he decided to study architecture at the University of California in Berkeley, he collected baskets made by Native Americans and sold them to the Field Museum in Chicago which helped with his college tuition. 

It’s interesting that while Native Americans were being displaced by the government, museums were created to exhibit their history that included their cultural work. Shepard carried an interest in Native American basketry and Middle Eastern rugs during his lifetime.

After attending the University of California, Shepard went to Chicago and worked under Frank Lloyd Wright. “Shepard would later apply these principles to develop neighborhoods in Kansas City.” (Source.) Frank Lloyd Wright was a mentor.

After Shepard and Nella Kendall married and had their daughter, Elizabeth, they moved to Kansas City. He taught at the Kansas City Art Institute. Shepard opened an office in 1907 in Kansas City. He “designed more than six hundred homes in the Country Club and Mission Hills districts.” (Source.) Many of his designs revolved around the Prairie School style and several were added to the NRHP. 

In Shepard’s later years, he exhibited his oil paintings at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Kansas City Society of Artists. He also served as the president of that society for a couple of years. Between the buildings he designed and the landscapes he painted, he left his creative mark. 

Shepard died on April 30, 1949, at age 79. His wife, Nella, died in 1926 at 49 or 50. He remarried in 1927 to Arabell White Shepard, who died on November 3, 1963, at age 86. Elizabeth Mary Shepard Estes, daughter to Charles and Nella died on December 1, 1985, at age 81. 

Judge Louis R. Gates

By the time the house was completed in 1923, Gates was serving in the legislature as a representative from the Rosedale area where he also went to high school. He obtained his law degree from the University of Michigan after earning his undergrad degree from Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas. In 1910, Gates was admitted to the bars of Michigan, Kansas, and Missouri.

Gates opened an office in Kansas City, Kansas after World War I. During the years he served as an attorney, he was a solo practitioner. He served in the following capacities:

  • 1925-1929--Judge of the City Court.
  • 1928-- Delegate to Republican National Convention from Kansas.
  • 1931--President of the Kansas City, Kansas Chamber of Commerce (which was during the beginning of the Depression).
  • 1937--President of the local bar association.
  • 1938-1943--Referee of the United States Bankruptcy hearings. 

According to the Political Graveyard site, the burial location of Louis R. Gates is unknown.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms, and I retired early so I could be a writer all day. You could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri because I was born into the Air Force life. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

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