Located just south of the “Military Road” (now known as Barry Road) that ran between the Liberty Arsenal and Fort Leavenworth, the parcel of land that eventually became the City of Platte Woods was developed by Ernest “Ernie” C. Thompson as the “Garden Spot of Platte County” in the 1930’s. It was conceived as an exclusive residential community offering full acre or larger lots.
On March 1, 1846, the United States deeded 160 acres to
Thomas Jacks by signature of President James K. Polk. Under
the Homestead Act of 1820, Mr. Jacks was entitled to another
160 acres if he was married. Mr. Jacks married Cynthia
Martin, daughter of Zed Martin, and together they owned 320
acres. Thomas’ father, Richard Jacks, had moved from
Kentucky to Clay County in 1821.
In 1842, Thomas Jacks used slave labor to build a two-story “Manor House” on 10 acres. Adjacent to the Manor House was a two-room stone cabin where Jacks’ slaves lived. The “Manor House” burned in 1928.
The stone cabin is presumed to be one of the oldest dwellings in Platte County. Legend has it Ben Jacks, born in 18?? was the first white child born in Platte County. Ben Jacks was the 10th of 11 children born to Tom and Cynthia Jacks. The stone cabin was used for various purposes until 1947, when it was incorporated into the expansion of the present home of 7305 N.W. Prairie View Road.
In 1859, Jacks sold 320 acres, including the Manor House and stone cabin, to Green and Elizabeth White. In January 1882, the Estate of Green White sold 250 acres to Phillip Klamm.
Shortly before his death in 1927, Phillip Klamm contracted
with Kansas City Power & Light to supply electricity to the
area. An easement was granted through the City to enable
electric lines to be run to Platte City. In 1930, the Estate
of Phillip Klamm sold 250 acres to Ernie Thompson.
The Platte Woods Improvement Association (PWIA) was chartered in 1938 and governed until the area was incorporated as a village on December 5, 1946. In 1954, the village was incorporated as a Fourth Class City. Herrick Hall was elected as the City’s first Mayor.
The west boundary of the city is Missouri Hwy. 9 which was originally a dirt road running between Parkville and U.S. Hwy. 71. On the south, Linden Road (later designated the current 72nd Street) was an old coach road between Gladstone and Parkville.
Ernie Thompson constructed and imaginatively named the City’s roads (e.g., Red Haw, Tomahawk Lane, Arbor Creek, and Crystal Pool). The original roads were dirt and residents made private contributions to pave the roads with gravel. The roads were hard-surfaced beginning around 1950.
Early photos of home construction show large wooded lots with mature trees. In the 1930’s, Ernie Thompson built in succession the Cass house, the Tarleton house, the Francis house, the Blunk house and the Blank house. In 1939 the Schambach house and the Russell house were built. In 1940 several more houses were built, including the Jones house and the Radford house. Home construction was steady in the following years and each of the homes reflects a personality unique within the neighborhood giving Platte Woods a classical suburban look.
Natural gas lines were installed in 1951 and residents switched from oil to gas. In 1952, water lines were installed, and residents abandoned their water wells, some reluctantly. Residents west of Prairie View Road had enjoyed excellent water wells. However, few residents on the east had producing wells and had to haul water from Parkville or North Kansas City. In March 1954, Bell Telephone began improving the party telephone lines, and by 1956 each house had its own telephone line.
In 1956, six homes were moved due to construction of a new northbound lane for U.S. Hwy. 71. Five of the homes were relocated within the City limits and are still in use. A few years later, when a southbound lane was added to U.S. Hwy. 71 to create Interstate 29, no homes were moved or demolished.
In 1975, City voters approved the issuance of bonds to construct sewer lines. The lines were connected to the Kansas City sewer system and residential septic tanks were eliminated.
Early PWIA and City Council meetings were held in homes and churches. In 1975, meeting space was leased in the old Swartz Egg Co. building now occupied by Miller Management. In 1987, voters approved with 80% of the vote the issuance of bonds to construct the Platte Woods City Hall. The bonds were sold in three days, mostly to City residents. Construction of City Hall was completed in 1988 and includes areas for government offices and Municipal Court.