Spofford Home for Children

a large house on a hilltop, flanked by two tall, bare-limbed trees

NPS Photo

Quick Facts

5501 Cleveland Ave., Kansas City, Missouri.
Social History
National Register of Historic Places
The property at 5501 Cleveland Avenue located in Kansas City, Missouri was the second location for the Thomas M. Spofford Children's Receiving Home ("Spofford Home," "Spofford" or "Home"). The organization was founded in 1916, the result of an agreement between Jackson County, Missouri and the Institutional Methodist-Episcopal Church. Following national movements in child welfare, the Spofford Home is locally significant under Criteria A for SOCIAL HISTORY as being recognized as one of the earliest specialized study and treatment homes in Kansas City for emotionally disturbed children. Spofford Home was a leader in its approach and evolution of contemporary welfare practices and treatment of children, as witnessed by their dedication to build an intentionally designed children's residential treatment facility. The building and site offered increased programming and services, as noted by the construction of the addition and added amenities. 

The Spofford Home was established in the latter part of the Progressive Era, a period when religious, women's organizations and immigrant groups organized to develop programs for the social and charitable needs of the community. The original mission of the Home, beginning in 1916, was to take in white children who had been neglected or had been orphaned after a death of a parent. By 1928, the Spofford Home had begun studying the behavioral problems and psychiatric care of children, which continued to evolve into the 1930s and 1940s, when it began focusing on individualized treatment and care. The period of significance of the Spofford Home begins in 1934, with the date of construction and occupancy of the existing building and ends in 1966 with the fifty year cut off as determined by the National Park Service. Significant mission-related activities continued at the building until 1978 when the organization relocated to its present location in south Kansas City, Missouri.

Last updated: July 28, 2017