What Is a Kansas City Shirtwaist House?

Here is an architectural style that is truly regional – The Kansas City Shirtwaist house. I grew up in Kentucky, and I can honestly tell you that I had never heard the term before 2003 when I moved to Kansas City for my first grown-up job. The shirtwaist I lived in was located in the Volker neighborhood and was built in 1906. My only peeve with it was the 100 year old windows and smaller closets, but otherwise, I thought it was a great house. It was spacious with high ceilings, the layout made sense, and I absolutely loved hanging on the front porch. When I have a client looking for a historic home, or something with a vintage feel, a Shirtwaist is usually a great fit – especially if they are on a budget.

Kansas City Shirtwaist House

Also known as the Midwest Shirtwaist, this is an architectural style that was built from about 1900-1920 in Kansas City. Kansas City Shirtwaist homes all have very similar features which make them easy to distinguish.

Common Features of Kansas City Shirtwaist Houses:

  • The first level will be built out of brick or locally quarried limestone.
  • The upper levels are generally wood lap siding, but occasionally will be stucco.
  • They all have a front porch, generally made of brick or stone.
  • They have at least two, and often three levels.
  • Symmetrical design.
  • They have a steep gabled roof; this means that there will be a triangle shaped roof formed by two sections of the roof sloping down. Often, they are a bellcast gable, which means that the gabled roof slopes down into flared eaves that form overhangs on the side of the house.
  • Typically, the staircase will be oriented on the side of the house, leading all the way from the basement to the upper levels.
  • There is often an outside door in the staircase between 1st and basement levels, which exits to the driveway.
  • Kitchen is in the rear of the home, with a back door.
  • All bedrooms are located on upper levels; the first floor is living space.
  • If a third floor exists, it is generally a uniquely shaped space due to the slope of the roof. Many people use this floor as a family room, guest room or office space.

Looking to buy or sell a Kansas City Shirtwaist home?

I can help you navigate the market. I know these homes well – I used to live in one!

Let’s Talk

Where to find Kansas City Shirtwaist Houses:

Shirtwaists can be found downtown south to about the Plaza. There are only a few sprinkled in Brookside. Common areas are:

  • Midtown
  • Hyde Park
  • Historic Northeast
  • Volker/39th Street West/Roanoke
About the Author

Sarah Snodgrass is a residential real estate agent specializing in Kansas City's historic neighborhoods and enclaves.

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