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The dream of a better life was, and still is, the prominent force driving Leawood’s history and development. It’s what drew the Native Americans who first lived and prospered here... the French and American explorers and settlers like Daniel Boone who followed... and the people living and working here today who have made it one of the region’s leading residential and business communities.
The First Settlers
Oscar G. Lee, a retired police officer from Oklahoma, set down the modern-day roots of Leawood. When Lee arrived in 1922, he brought with him a lifetime of dreams about his own future that he sought to make real on land he purchased between what are now 79th and 103rd Streets and State Line and Belinder Roads.
This purchase became the foundation of present-day Leawood. However, Leawood was shaped in great part in 1948, following the establishment of a Kroh Brother’s housing development.
Above: Oscar G. Lee with his brothers. Lee, one of the two men seated, moved to the area from Oklahoma. When the town was incorporated, Lee was replaced with ‘lea,’ suggesting a pleasant place of meadows.
Building A Strong Foundation
From the start, the Kroh Brothers and residents, of what would become Leawood, hoped and planned for a community with the peacefulness of a small town and the amenities of a larger city.
After World War II, returning veterans had a dream of giving their families a good home settled in tight-knit neighborhoods near excellent schools. The Kroh Brothers real estate firm was ready to help them make their dreams come true. It was responsible for some of the community’s first 500 homes, the community’s first planning tools, its fire and police protection, street repair and many other components that would play important roles in building a high quality of life. This enabled Leawood to become the first subdivision development to be incorporated as a city in Johnson County.
Leawood has not stopped growing. From that first, single housing development, Leawood has grown into a city 15.21 square miles in size, nestled among the cities of Overland Park and Prairie Village, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.
Leawood is one of the fastest growing cities in Kansas. Its population has grown dramatically in the last 30 years to nearly 33,000 residents and is expected to reach 40,000 within the next 10-15 years. To manage such growth, a master development plan is in place to ensure that Leawood maintains its inviting tree-lined neighborhoods and distinctive, well thought-out retail and commercial development.
A Beautiful City
Today, with picturesque parks and streets, highly rated schools and welcoming places of worship, Leawood is all that the founders envisioned. Through hard work and careful planning, Leawood has maintained its initial community vision while promoting and cultivating a competitive business market that residents and businesses alike appreciate. Those seeking a high quality of life can easily find it in the well-rounded community of Leawood.
Source: Leawood: A Portrait in Time