Bird Mansion

KC Journal Post, May 23, 1937
(Elmhurst is now the location of the Uptown Shoppes. The original wall surrounding the estate still exists.)

Stately Home of Late Mrs. Bird
in Wrecker’s Hands

A wrecking crew this week will start raising the stately home, Elmhurst, of the late Mrs. Annie Byrd. The house stands at the west end of a five-acre tract extending from Broadway, along Valentine Road to Pennsylvania Avenue. The house, containing 18 rooms, was erected in 1898 by the late John Perry as a surprise for his wife and children, then in Europe. They were drowned when the French ship, LaBurgoyne, sank off the coast of Nova Scotia after a collision.

birdres

Elmhurst, the Southern colonial stone mansion on a five-acre tract at Broadway and Valentine. Long the home of Mrs. Annie Ridenbauugh Bird, widow of Joseph T. Bird, Kansas City merchant prince (Emery, Bird & Thayer), will be razed this week.

The contract was awarded Saturday to the Wright Construction company to remove the building and clear the site, which will be placed in the hands of Jesse L. Porter to dispose of as conditions warrant.

Since the death of Mrs. Bird January 28, the home has been occupied only be a caretaker. Mrs. Bird’s only daughter, Mrs. Porter T. Hall and Mr. Hall live in the Mission Hills district, so it was deemed advisable to raze the Bird home and make the tract of five acres available for business and other devevlopment.

The 18-room mansion was built in 1898 by the late John Perry, pioneer Kansas City business man and one of the founders of the Keith & Perry Coal Company, later the Central Coal & Coke company, and builders of the Keith and Perry building at Ninth and Walnut Streets. Mr. Perry planned the house as a surprise for his wife and four children, then in Europe on a visit. The wife and children never saw the home prepared for them. On the journey back to the United States the French ship, La Burgoyne, on which they were passangers, sank near Cape Sable off the coast of Nova Scotia, after a collision with the Cromartyshire. There were 560 lives lost in the disaster.

Mr. Perry, grief stricken, refused to live in the house.A brother, William Perry, occupied it for a time, then a Mr. McGrath. Mr. Bird bought the property in 1904.

The grounds of Elmhurst from 348 feet on Broadway and on Pennsylvania Avenue, two blocks west. The Valentine road or southern frontage is 580 1/2 feet.

Razing starts Wednesday – Such was Mrs. Joseph T. Bird’s commitment to Elmhurst and its ample grounds at 3600 Broadway that she preserved the house for a lifetime, even though a hotel towered above her lilacs and a theater and busy shops became neighbors. Now instead of a single house the five acres is expected to house several families.