Norman School: A proud testament to Historic Preservation

Norman School in the 3500 block of Jefferson was built in 1898 by John Perry, Principal of the Keith & Perry Coal Company. Architect for the project was Charles A. Smith who lived at 810 Benton Boulevard and designed a number of schools and prominent buildings in the Midwest including Northeast High School, Paseo High School and the Firestone building in the Crossroads District.

Joseph L. Norman was born in Jefferson County, Illinois on October 21st, 1841. He came to West Port, then on the outskirts of Kansas City in 1859 and owned a farm near what is present day 40th street and State Line Road. Norman was a prominent Union man who came from a military family, having relatives that served in the American Revolution and the War of 1812. During the Civil War Norman enlisted in the Twelfth Kansas Infantry in Wyandotte County in August of 1862 and was involved in the Price and Shelby raids and fought in the Battle of the Little Blue, the Battle of Westport among other border skirmishes.

His business career as a prominent Abstract Attorney partnered him with Lafayette Traber in the firm of Traber & Norman, Traber then living at 1731 Pendleton Avenue in the prominent new subdivision of Pendleton Heights. Norman served on the Kansas City School Board, according to his obituary, for a total of twenty-one years from 1887-1908, passing away on September 28th, 1909 after a ten-week bout with what was described as heart disease. Just prior to his death he had planned to retire to his new home on the southwest corner of 35th & Jefferson, immediately across the street from the school that bore his name.

In 2005 Norman School was shuttered by the Kansas City School District and the building became a target for vandals and vagrants who often started fires in the structure to stay warm. In 2009 the building was purchased by developer Del Hedgepath and slated for renovation and restoration as loft apartments. Since then the project, Norman School Lofts has garnered a number of Historic Preservations awards and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

This Acmegraph Company published postcard was mailed to Ms. P. F. Rutherford of Wyanet, Illinois on December 29th, 1913. The message reads: “Dear friend, Many thanks for the pretty card of the 18th. I sent you seven letters to mail for me yesterday and hope you received and have mailed some by this time. Thanking you for your troubles, I remain yours. Sincerely Milton Camps, Box 359, Kansas City, MO.”
Joseph Lafayette Norman’s obituary from September 29th, 1909 has been included with our online version of this postcard for any readers who are interested in learning more about him.

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