The roots of agriculture in Jackson County run deep and date all the way back to the days before statehood and the pioneers.
During the 1920s, Jackson County was known as the cattle capital of the world. Major farm estates were scattered across the southern and eastern townships of the county dedicated to the production of purebred cattle. The area around Lee’s Summit saw the largest and most beautiful farms in North America.
The 7,600-acre Highland Farm was east of town along what are now the Milton Thompson Road and the Lake Lotawana areas. Highland was the largest Hereford breeding ranch in the country. Unity Farm was north of town along Colburn Road and Missouri 350 and was considered a world-class show place.
However, the shining jewel of Jackson County was, without a doubt, the Longview Estate. Established in 1912 by Robert A Long, it was west of Lee’s Summit around the present-day Longview Lake.
Long was a big time lumberman and founder of the Long-Bell Lumber Company. The family lived on Gladstone Boulevard in northeast Kansas City in a mansion they called Corinthian Hall. Longview Farms was their country estate. For most of our lives, Corinthian Hall has been known as the Kansas City Museum.
Longview Farm was originally established for breeding the world’s finest blue-blooded racehorses, saddle, harness and show horses. And they truly made a name for themselves in arenas around the globe. Among the world famous fillies were names like Ovation, Animation, Admiration, and Carnation.
Longview also became famous for Purebred Jersey dairy cattle and Duroc Jersey hogs.
The magic that set Longview apart from the other farm estates was the beautiful Italian architecture and immaculate kept grounds. Across the 1,680 acres were 42 magnificent structures; the farm was simply a community in itself, with its own electrical, water, and telephone systems. Power and steam-heat were installed in all the buildings.
There were enormous stucco barns with red tile roofs and glamorous harness stables, racetracks and a tanbark arena.
With hot water in the stables to bathe the cattle, steam radiator heat for the hogs, carpet for the horses and lace curtains and window shades in the barns, Longview was second to none. Even had its own fire department and hose wagon, with fireplugs located within reach of every building.
One hundred and twenty-five men were employed year round to work the large fields of alfalfa, timothy, and clover. Homes were maintained for the married employees and a hotel for the bachelors. Longview had its own church, and each morning their school bus carried the children into Lee’s Summit for classes.
Large greenhouses produced thousands of flowers, roses, and shrubs, not only for planting across the grounds but also for sale to the public. Vines were cultivated for all the buildings, making the barns partially covered with clinging vines, and during the growing season the huge farm was a wonderland of foliage.
A paved driveway with lamp posts led to the elegant home, which stood in the center of the huge farm, surrounded by sunken gardens and a picturesque lake in an Italian setting. At the foot of a leaf-covered walk, leading down from the home was a large swan-covered lake. An Italian garden with fountains and a long white pergola graced one end of the lake with a park at the other end.
The architecture and garden art transformed this Jackson County estate into a fairyland of pleasing scenic effects, making it one of the most beautiful farms in the world.
Reference: “Jackson County, Missouri – Its Opportunities and Resources,” by M.E. Ballou.
To reach Ted W. Stillwell send an e-mail to Ted@blueandgrey.com or call him at 816-896-3592.