The historic R. Bryson Jones House is located at 1045 West 56th Street in Kansas City, Missouri (Jackson County). It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 15, 2009.
This is a Colonial Revival-style home with a stone foundation and walls of wood construction. The architecture firm was Root and Siemens. This firm designed many commercial, religious, and residential buildings in Kansas City, including the Scarritt Building and Arcade, the Institutional Church, and houses for several prominent citizens.
The house is two and a half stories high. It has an enclosed two-story porch and an enclosed second-floor sleeping porch. The rising exterior chimney on the east side is remarkably attention-grabbing. There is also a three-car wood frame garage in the back of the home. According to a real estate website, the house was last sold in 2008. It is privately owned.
The Jones House is significant due to its architecture. It was constructed in 1910 and represents a high-end residence in the Country Club District. The house was built for R. Bryson Jones who was a businessman and insurance agent.
Country Club District
Real estate developer, Jesse Clyde (J.C.) Nichols began his career at the turn of the century. He worked on both sides of the Missouri and Kansas state lines.
Nichols' first subdivision called Bismark Place was located between Walnut, Main, 49th, and 51st Streets. His goal was to attract affluent buyers. His work impressed the local businessmen and he had financial backers that made up the Nichols Investment Company.
In 1907, 1,000 acres of land were acquired for the purpose of dividing it up and creating several neighborhoods. This area was bounded by Holmes Street, State Line Road, 51st Street, and 59th Street all of which at that time contained undeveloped pastures and woodland.
The Jones House was located in the core of the Sunset Hill subdivision created by Nichols. Landscape architect, George Kessler, helped with the coordination of designing a wide boulevard to go through Sunset Hill. The roadway was eventually named Ward Parkway after Hugh C. Ward upon his death in 1909.
The design of Ward Parkway and the residential neighborhood of large lots made the Country Club District a desirable place to live, especially for people like R. Bryson Jones and those who could afford it.
Richard Bryson Jones
Jones was more commonly known as R. Bryson Jones. Born in 1872, Jones was a native of Covington, Kentucky. His father, Richard Bacon Jones, belonged to a wholesale grocery firm known as Hollister, Jones & Company in Cincinnati Ohio.
When his family relocated to Levanna, Ohio, Bryson's father was the vice president of Boyd Manufacturing Company which operated sawmills, lumberyards, and boat yards. For Bryson, at the time, it was his goal to become a lawyer someday.
In 1884, the Boyd Manufacturing Company mill burned. A year later, another mill burned. Since it was hard to get insurance for lumber mills, another mill was sold to pay off debt. In 1886, Bryson's father borrowed money to move his family to Kansas City. Bryson was 14 at that time.
Bryson attended Washington School and worked at a produce commission house to help bring money in for his family. He would work all day and study at night. While working a Clemons, Cloon and Company, he earned a promotion as salesman, but in 1893, the company was destroyed by fire. Another company associated with that company, Ford & Doan Merchandise Brokerage Company, offered Bryson a job as assistant manager. Naturally, he took the job.
In 1904, Bryson married Alice Barse. Their first home was at Hotel Bellerive on Armour Boulevard which was a luxury apartment building at the time.
Three years later, Bryson entered into a partnership with Henry J. Gable and Fred M. Johnson. They were so successful, they had branch offices in Omaha and Wichita. In 1908, Bryson left that partnership to work with his father and brothers at an insurance agency called R.B. Jones & Sons. Interestingly, their agency sold fire insurance. Their company was in the Federal Reserve building in downtown Kansas City. In 1922, another insurance agency merged with their agency making it even larger.
Bryson's brothers also lived in the Country Club District. Bryson was a supporter of the Arts and belonged to several clubs and organizations in the city. Interestingly, while he was the president of the Knife and Fork Club, in 1914, he met Helen Keller and they were friends throughout their lives. She was even a guest at their home.
Bryson and his wife were afforded the ability to travel around the world. He retired from the family business in 1947. They remained in the historic home until 1948 after raising two daughters there. They moved from that house to 634 W. 59th Street Terrace, where one of their daughters also lived.
Bryson and Alice last lived at the Elms Hotel in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. Bryson died on October 28, 1956, at age 84, from an illness he had been carrying four years.
Also interesting and notable are the travel films Bryson made from his world travels from 1930 to 1941. These are part of the Human Studies Film Archives at the Smithsonian Institute.
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