Kirkwood, MO

The historic James W. and Mary Way House: an attractive Kirkwood landmark

CJ Coombs
Historic James W. and Mary Way House, Kirkwood, Missouri.Photo byJon Roanhaus, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

This house, also known as the Swan Cottage, is historic. Generally known as the James W. and Mary Way House, it's attractive. On December 12, 2002, this house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

This house is located at 305 North Harrison in Kirkwood, Missouri, and was built around 1865, about 158 years ago. The architectural style is Greek Revival. The architect is unknown. It has a stone foundation and the walls are weatherboard.

This one-story home is a frame house with a central front porch. The Greek Revival details are simple. A frame house is constructed from a wooden skeleton and is usually covered with sheathing.

The house faces east on a level yard that's a little over a third of an acre. There's gravel parking behind the house and in the south part of the yard is a modern wooden gazebo. Over time, the house was expanded in the back before the beginning of the 1900s. A large room was added with another addition to that in the 1920s or 1930s.

The Way house has a sheltered porch supported by narrow square posts which are simple enough but effective. A low balustrade runs between the columns. The porch flooring is wood.

The three stages of this house

The first stage is the main block of the house that includes the front porch which dates back to around 1865. The second stage (as stated earlier) was a large room added to the rear of the home and that was added before the turn of the century. This may have been added by a man named William Swan who was the second owner of the home and lived in the house between 1867 and 1878. The last stage was added in the early 1900s.

Upon entry into the home, there's a wide central hallway. As the windows had wavy glass panes, they are very early dated or original panes. The farther you go back in time, the wavier the glass, and as methods were improved over time, the appearance of the waves or distortions were less visible.

The first addition at the back of the house, also on a stone foundation, is at the end of the original hallway. The weatherboards on the exterior are the same as the main part of the house. This addition used to have a kitchen.

This historic home is in a quiet neighborhood. While small, it's one of the oldest houses in the original part of town. Residential development didn't start in Kirkwood until the mid-1860s even though the town was already established. This home was either built by or for James and Mary Way.

As James Way was living in St. Louis from 1865 to 1867, it's believed that the house might have served as a rural retreat for his family which would explain its modest size before it was added onto.

Way was a chief engineer of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. In 1869, he supervised the first street improvement project in Kirkwood.

On January 11, 1867, the Ways sold the property. When William Swan lived in the house, he may not have lived in it full-time either. He was living in Kirkwood though as he worked for H.W. Leffingwell and Company. Leffingwell was a real estate speculator. He and a man named Richard S. Elliott formed the Kirkwood Association in 1852.

While working for this real estate company, Swan took advantage of investment opportunities. In 1867, he bought several properties in Kirkwood, St. Louis City, and St. Louis County. With the Swans owning the house on Harrison, it became known as the Swan Cottage. As the Swan Cottage, the City of Kirkwood designated it as a local landmark.

When the Swans added the first addition to the back of the house, that might have been when they made it their full-time residence. Swan Avenue is named after William Swan. They sold the house in the summer of 1878 to G.C. Hammond and he probably didn't use it as his chief residence because he built a larger home on the northern side of the property.

According to Kirkwood Landmark records, the property was owned by William Hoeman from the 1920s until the 1970s. He was a local optician. During his ownership, the third stage of the home was added.

According to the Redfin real estate website, it was last sold in the spring of 2013. According to another real estate site, the house is close to downtown Kirkwood. The house has two bedrooms and bathrooms. It also has high ceilings and lots of light coming in with all the windows.

Thanks for reading and keeping history alive.

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Multi-genre writer and author/publisher with a BA in Eng Journalism/Creative Writing. I worked in law firms for 30+ years and retired early to pursue writing. I was born into the Air Force, so you could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, research, history, true crime, reading, art, and travel.

Kansas City, MO

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