Photo by Michael Bushnell

By Michael Bushnell

Tuesday evening, March 1,  the University of Missouri – Kansas City’s (UMKC) Center for Neighborhoods hosted an open house event at the Kansas City Museum to toast the Museum’s partnership with the Center for Neighborhoods and announce the next exhibit in the neighborhood gallery on the third floor.

UMKC’s Jacob A. Wagner, Associate Professor of Urban Planning & Design, Director of the Urban Studies Program and Founder of Center for Neighborhoods, announced to the roughly 30 people in attendance in the third floor JE Dunn Theater that the Leeds-Dunbar Neighborhood would be the next Kansas City community to be exhibited in the neighborhood gallery.

UMKC Urban, Planning and Design students conducted outreach in the Fall of 2021 with the neighborhood and developed a timeline with neighborhood association President Kathryn Persley as a way for residents to engage and share their historical knowledge, family history and personal stories,” Wagner said. “Additional activities are planned for residents to co-produce the exhibit.”

The Leeds-Dunbar neighborhood is bordered by Van Brunt Boulevard near the Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Hospital to the west, Leeds Trafficway to the south and Raytown Road on the north and east.

According to Kansas City’s African American Heritage Trail, “The area was mostly a predominately white industrial community until the early 20th century when African Americans, with fewer options to own land in Kansas City, moved into the neighborhood because realtors were willing to sell to them. While most residences were small, two-room bungalows — many without electricity, running water and other modern amenities — they were affordable.”

Wagner said that content development is currently under way and the tentative exhibit launch date is in the first quarter of 2023.

Historic images are courtesy of the Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library. 1940 Kansas City Tax Photo courtesy of Missouri Digital Heritage Collection.