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More than a century after its construction, 1016 Paseo is somehow still there, the last house on the left, the last Second Renaissance Revival house in the city.
And it's for sale. Again.
The real-estate agent who has listed the property since it returned to the market last November is Audrey Elder of Reece and Nichols. She says there's a buyer — "a unique buyer" — out there. The main problem? As Elder puts it: "Not everyone wants to live at 10th and Paseo."
Perhaps more to the point, not every buyer has $445,000 to spend on a house these days, especially in a neighborhood that hasn't had serious cachet as a residential community in some seven decades (or been a safe place for families in almost half that long).
But this is a landmark first and a house second, so the real-estate listing for 1016 Paseo runs to 10 illustrated pages. Even at that bulk, the property's MLS sheet doesn't do justice to the building's details and complex history.
For one thing, as an unabashed Elder admits, 1016 Paseo was once a brothel. It's the house that sex built.
Annie Chambers was Kansas City's most famous prostitute, and she plied her trade in this town's first red-light district, in the neighborhoods surrounding what today is the City Market. The newly constructed suburb at 10th Street and the Paseo was just a couple of miles away. But at the turn of the last century, its gentility was a universe removed from the silt and sin near the water line.
Still, there was an unexpected link: sexually transmitted disease. Not many physicians in Kansas City openly treated it, but Generous Henderson was one — he proudly advertised his services in local publications as early as 1893. The language in those ads was slightly coded: "chronic, nervous and special diseases." What drove his practice, though, was word-of-mouth. By the end of the 19th century, Henderson was a very wealthy doctor.
Treating varicocele (enlargement of veins in the scrotum), phimosis (inability to retract foreskin) and the other ailments that his ads called "private diseases" wasn't the most glamorous practice for the Chicago-born Henderson, especially during a prudish era. But it allowed him to leave Quality Hill and strike out for the rapidly developing East Side, where he spared no expense building his showcase home on the Paseo.
Named for Mexico City's famous Paseo de la Reforma and planned by legendary landscape architect George Kessler, the street was something really dazzling in 1900: a cross between a boulevard and a park. Among its formal gardens, directly across from the Henderson home, was a pergola. Dozens of shabby frame houses and lesser shacks were torn down on the stretch between 10th and 11th streets in 1897 so that the Paseo could rival the era's classiest neighborhoods of Independence Avenue and the "Millionaire's Row" of Troost Avenue between 26th and 32nd streets.
It didn't work out that way. This section of the Paseo was destined to draw apartment buildings and hotels rather than impressive mansions. But in 1899, Henderson and his wife, Catherine, were willing to bet on the thoroughfare's promising future, with a mansion designed for large-scale entertaining.
"They were very social," says historian Liana Twente, who researched the Henderson home for Elder. "That's why there's a musician's gallery on the landing between the first and second floors, and a ballroom and billiards room on the top floor." (Twente is compiling a book about the mansion, which she hopes will be privately published after the house's eventual sale.)