Wornall Majors House Museums

Building the Wornall House

Wornall Homestead Picture 1912

Original house on the Wornall property, built by John C. McCoy in 1837

Wornall House, ca. 1898

The John Wornall House is one of the few surviving antebellum houses in the Kansas City area and is on the National Register of Historic Places. John Wornall built the house in 1858 on his 500-acre farm. It served as a family home for over 100 years before being restored to its mid-nineteenth century style and opened as a museum.

 

The Wornall family purchased their land in 1843.  Originally, they lived in a one-story log cabin about 200 feet west of the Wornall House. John Wornall made his living selling his crops to wagon trains heading west on the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails. A portion of the Santa Fe Trail followed the current path of Wornall Road and would have passed directly in front of the house.

The Wornall property would have spanned north-south from 59th to 67th streets, and east-west from Main Street to State Line. The house faces west, looking out over Wornall Road, named for John in the early days of Kansas City.

The design of the Wornall House expressed John’s position in the community. The large Greek columns, solid brick construction, and prominent location displayed his wealth to the community. Wiley Britton, a young man hired to help build the brick farmhouse, recalled that Wornall desired to build “the most pretentious house in that section.”

The architect of the home is unknown, and Kansas City at the time had a few academically trained architects. But John, as was typical, acted as his own contractor for the construction of the house. The brick for the Wornall House was fired on a site 50 feet east of the present building. The house was most likely built using hired slave labor. In addition, John hired Wiley Britton to haul sand from the Missouri River and then carry the brick and mortar. All the walls in the house are 12 inches thick and load bearing.

The limestone for the foundation, fireplaces and door and window lintels was quarried nearby. A large root cellar was built under the kitchen, but the rest of the house stands on an 18-inch foundation.

Receipts for materials for this house and others like it show that Wornall spent about $2,000 in materials and $2,500 in labor, for a total cost of $4,505.69.

Wornall Majors House Museums
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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

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