Wornall Majors House Museums

The Majors House

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. Majors built the house in 1856, on a 300-acre farm. It served as both a family home and headquarters for a successful freighting company. Today, Majors’ property would span north-south from 75th to 89th, and east-west from Summit to State Line. The house faces west, looking out over what was then Kansas Territory.

The property 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. Being an astute business person, Majors constructed his house right on the edge of the United States, enabling 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. This allowed him to graze his oxen in Kansas Territory, thus avoiding taxation, as livestock was not taxed in the territory.

scan0040

Majors property with house is in background, early 1900s

As Alexander Majors was a slaveholder, it is likely that enslaved people performed a majority of the construction. The Majors 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.

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 on the second floor. The original kitchen was a small lean-to at the back of the house.

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 bedrooms and a kitchen, replacing the lean-to.

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, the house merged with the John Wornall House Museum and reopened for tours.

Wornall Majors House Museums
©
Privacy Policy

The John Wornall House

6115 Wornall Road
Kansas City, MO. 64113

816.444.1858

The Alexander Majors House & Barn

8201 State Line Road
Kansas City, MO. 64114

816.444.1858

Facebook  Instagram  Pinterest  Trip Advisor  Twitter
Photo Credits: Jeri Adams, Sarah Bader-King, John Browning, and Bruce Mathews