Independence, MO, Swope Residence

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Description: Postcard of the Swope Residence in Independence, Missouri.
Date: n.d.
Location: SC58
Collection: Mrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection (SC58)See finding aid:,36981
Historical Article: In the early days of this century the Swope family was enjoying this 26-room, 3-story red brick mansion at 406 South Pleasant in Independence. There were stained glass windows, fine woods, large cedar-lined closets, a freight elevator, butler's pantry and a fruit cellar underground. At the left front on the post card is the parlor with a fancy fireplace and the round corner of the tower that rises through three stories like a minaret. The large home, built in the 1880s and often pointed out for its turrets and towers, was on the highest ground of a 19-acre tract, embellished with gardens and winding walks. Logan Swope had been the owner of the home and his widow and her seven children occupied the home when Thomas A. Swope moved in with his brother's family. It was after Frances Swope (one of Logan's daughters) married young Dr. Hyde that weird things began to happen in the mansion. In 1909, in less than three months time, three deaths occurred. One was that of Thomas A. Swope, called Kansas City's greatest benefactor at the time. He was an 82-year-old bachelor and had a fortune of $3 1/2 million. Nine other members of the family came down with typhoid fever soon after his death. The butler's pantry in the mansion held a dumbwaiter where meals or drinks could be lifted to upper floors. Water was brought from the basement to the butler's pantry. It is said that this dumbwaiter became the most celebrated dumbwaiter in history. The pulley-rope lift was an important clue in a murder trial that held Kansas City's attention for more than two years. Doctors, public health personnel, typhoid fever experts and detectives studied it and the surroundings. It was here, the prosecutors charged, that typhoid germs were introduced into the water cooler that was used by the Swope family. Dr. Bennett Clark Hyde, husband of Frances Swope and the defendant in the murder trial, was eventually released after three trials. In 1920 the property was purchased by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A 3,000 seat outdoor arena was built south of the old home and playground equipment was installed at the north side. Before the depression marked its end the Independence Institute of Arts and Sciences, a church-sponsored night high school, was housed in the mansion. The old house deteriorated rapidly in the late 1950s and on July 14, 1960, demolition was begun. But, according to a news story of the day, As the wrecker's hammer resounds, Independence neighbors still ponder over deaths of a Kansas City benefactor, his estate administrator and a nephew. The picture of the house on the old post card is square, leaving the remaining space on the card for the sender's message. Postal regulations of the day forbade any writing on the address side. Kansas City Times, July 26, 1975.
Barcode: 20000332
Item Type: Postcard


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