Wornall Majors House Museums

The Majors House

 The Majors House today.

The Alexander Majors House is one of few surviving antebellum houses in the Kansas City area and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Alexander Majors built the house in 1856, on his 300-acre farmstead. It served as both a family home and as the headquarters for Majors’ successful freighting company. Today, Majors’ property would span north-south from 75th to 89th Streets, and east-west from Summit Street to State Line Road. The house faces west, looking out over what was then Kansas Territory.

Alexander Majors’ farmstead ran alongside a dirt path leading from West Port Landing to the original Santa Fe Trail. That dirt path is now known as State Line Road – the boundary between Kansas and Missouri.  Majors deliberately built his home merely feet away from the border of the then-United States, symbolically looking westward. The house’s strategic location enabled him to conduct business on leased property in what was then Kansas Territory. On this leased property Majors had huge corrals, grazing lands, oxen pens, barns, and wagon and blacksmith shops. Family legend has it that Majors did this because goods in Kansas Territory were untaxed, making him a very shrewd businessman.

It is likely that enslaved people performed a majority of the construction of the Majors House. The house is T-shaped, built of heavy oak timbers and square nails. The home is a modified Greek revival architecture style and features an unusual two-story recessed porch. Showcasing Majors’ wealth are 43 windows, containing 533 panes of glass. Glass was very expensive as it was manufactured and shipped from the East.


 The Majors property, with the house visible in
the background, c. 1910.

Originally the house had nine rooms and nine fireplaces—one in each room. There are 27 interior doors and 11 exterior doors; nearly every room has a door to an outside porch or balcony. The floors are virgin white pine—non-existent today. The walls were plaster, made of white lime and hog-hair. The house’s main rooms consisted of an office, parlor, and dining room on the first floor, and three bedrooms and a family parlor on the second floor. The original kitchen was either a lean-to or a completely detached building, often known as a “summer kitchen.”

The house stayed in the Majors family (through his oldest daughter Rebecca) until 1904, when it was sold to the Ruhl family. The Ruhls made several additions to the house.  A large bay window on the south expanded the dining room and the bedroom area above, and a two-story addition was made to rear giving the house two additional rooms and an indoor kitchen.

In 1924, the homestead was sold and divided up for a housing addition. The home was then converted to a schoolhouse for three years. As the population in the area grew, there were plans to tear down the house, but it was determined to be too costly to tear down because of its sturdy construction. By the late 1920s the Majors house was vacant and deteriorating.

In 1930, Louisa Johnston, the great granddaughter of Alexander Majors, bought the ruin from the school district for $2,500. She began to slowly restore the house, replacing windows and patching the roof. Louisa lived in the house for nearly 40 years. Upon her death in 1979, she willed the house to long-time friend, architect Terry Chapman. As trustee of the Majors Historical Trust, Chapman undertook a major restoration of the house and opened it for tours in 1984. Terry Chapman and his wife Victoria managed the house for more than 25 years until his death in 2010. In 2011, management of the house merged with the John Wornall House Museum and reopened for tours.

Wornall Majors House Museums
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The John Wornall House

6115 Wornall Road
Kansas City, MO. 64113


The Alexander Majors House & Barn

8201 State Line Road
Kansas City, MO. 64114


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Photo Credits: Jeri Adams, Sarah Bader-King, John Browning, and Bruce Mathews