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The art behind Kansas City’s historic homes: KC Shirtwaist

We’re handing you the keys to the first part of our newest real estate series unpacking the history of historic architecture styles found in Kansas City.

KCtoday_KC Shirtwaist

No bellcast gables, but a Shirtwaist nonetheless.| Photo by KCtoday

Casual Zillow scrollers and amateur architectural buffs — this one’s for you.

In our newest real estate series, we’re diving deep into some of Kansas City’s most notable architectural styles. Up first: the KC Shirtwaist.

Where did it come from?

Found in nearly every corner of the city, this iconic style was inspired by turn-of-the-century women’s fashion — namely the “Shirtwaist” blouse. Just like its clothing counterpart, these homes feature a “cinched waist” of sorts thanks to its distinctive bisected facade.

Most Kansas City Shirtwaists were built from the early 1900s to the 1920s under the Arts and Crafts movement. Its simple style, often featuring locally quarried limestone, was a rejection of the previous century’s ornate Victorian + Revival fashions, like the Dr. Generous Henderson Home.

Spot that style

You may not know the name, but you’ve definitely seen them around. This style is most prominent in neighborhoods that sprung up around the late 19th and early 20th centuries — think: Hyde Park, Westport, Historic Northeast, Midtown, and Volker.

On the house hunt? Keep an eye out for the telltale signs of a KC Shirtwaist:

  • Two or three-level home, ft. brick or limestone first level + wood-lap or stucco upper levels
  • Brick or stone covered front porch
  • Steep bellcast gable roof
  • Narrow windows and often a grand, centered dormer window
  • Main staircase connecting all levels on one side of the house
  • Kitchens located at the back with a back door

Love it? Live it

If you like what you’re reading, check out some KC Shirtwaist homes on the market today.

  • Valentine Shirtwaist | $495,000 | 5BD, 4 BA | Fully remodeled with refinished original hardwood floors
  • Westport Shirtwaist | $299,000 | 6BD, 4BA | New kitchen and appliances, just a few blocks from the Main St. Streetcar extension
  • Historic Northeast Shirtwaist | $289,000 | 4BD, 2BA | Historic charm in spades with brick covered porch + original 5-panel doors and hardware
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