Local history librarian Anne is back with another great insight into KCK history.

W. W. Rose

You might not be familiar with the names Rose and Peterson, but you have most certainly seen their work. This Kansas City, Kansas architecture firm flourished in the early 20th century, designing and building dozens of structures in the Kansas City area and beyond. The firm was a partnership between William Warren Rose (1864–1931) and David Burton Peterson (1875–1937). Some of KCK’s best-known public buildings were constructed by the firm, and they were most notably the architects for the public schools for many years. Their designs featured elements of many historic architectural styles and were often an eclectic combination of Neoclassical, Romanesque Revival, Tudor, and Beaux Arts styles. Some of their most important buildings included the Carnegie Library, the Scottish Rite Temple, Memorial Hall, and the Grund Hotel.

In 1891, William Rose (while working on his own) was appointed architect to the Kansas City, Kansas Board of Education. Peterson joined the firm in 1906 as a draftsman, and over the next two decades, they designed 20 school buildings for the district and additions for 16 others. Notable school buildings designed by Rose or Rose and Peterson were McKinley, Stowe, Kansas City, Kansas High School, and the “cottage schools” (Frances Willard, Chelsea II, Bryant Annex, and Parker), which were identical in style and floor plan.

Rose also had a short career as a politician. A Democrat, he was elected Mayor on April 4, 1905, at the age of 41. It was later written that: “W. W. Rose was perhaps the boldest and most original political thinker that has attracted attention in Wyandotte County.” (A. E. Neal, “Sidelines,” The Kansas City Kansan, May 25, 1931.) He believed in home rule for Kansas towns – that “Kansas City, Kansas should run its own affairs subject to the general laws of the State.” He was an early advocate of municipal ownership of the water system.

Rose and Peterson worked together until 1925 when Peterson began his own practice. To view more images of Rose and Peterson’s work, visit the Kansas Room’s Digital Collections page.