Remembering Charles A. Smith

Photo: Kansas City Public Library,
Missouri Valley Special Collections

Dorri Partain
Contributor


Buildings designed by architect Charles Ashley Smith (1866-1948) are still prominent throughout Historic Northeast Kansas City today.


Born in Ohio, Smith arrived in Kansas City in 1887 to work with William F. Hackney, the architect for the Kansas City School District. Upon Hackney’s death in 1898, Smith was slated as his replacement.


Over the next 38 years, Smith would design 50 schools across the city, including many well known to Northeast area students. All were classically designed and innovative for their time, with the latest systems for ventilation and cleanliness. His first design, Thacher School (1900-2015), was followed by Henry Clay (1907-1998), James Elementary (1910), Northeast High (1914), McCoy (1915-2013), Manchester (1919-2016), Northeast Junior High (1923), Woodland Elementary (1923), East High (1924), as well as the original Gladstone School (1912-1988) and the 1925 Scarritt addition.


Smith also designed residences, including his own home, which still stands at 810 Benton Blvd. Upon his death in 1948, he was interred into the Smith-Bailey family plot in Elmwood Cemetery. The simple granite marker denoting the plot reads “Smith” on the west-facing side and “Bailey” on the east-facing side. Smaller markers show the grave sites of Charles A. and his wife Mary (1868-1960) and her parents, David and Eliza Bailey, and brother Richard on the Bailey side. While the Smith’s most likely had children, they are not buried in this family plot.

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