1025 W. 53rd Terrace, Kansas City, Missouri
The Howell family business was lawyering. Charles M. Howell Sr. for many years was the law partner of Senator James A. Reed and was active in Democrat politics. His son, Charles M. Howell Jr., was in partnership with Floyd E. Jacobs. He married Aimee Dupont Andrews in 1931 and built the Showhouse in 1932. Mrs. Howell was a member of the Dupont family of Wilmington, Delaware.
The Howells engaged the architect, Edward Tanner, to design the red brick Normandy Farmhouse on West 53rd Terrace. He is known for his most recognizable work, the Country Club Plaza, but also for some 2,000 houses and business centers such as the Crestwood Shops on 55th Street between Brookside and Oak and the Prairie Village Shopping Center in Kansas. His public buildings include the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City and the Danforth Chapel at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas.
While living at the Showhouse the Howells had two sons, Charles Morgan Howell III in 1934 and James Newman Andrews Howell in 1935. The latter became an abstract painter in New York City and was best known for a body of work that explored gradations of a particular gray called “Series 10.” His interest in art began early while attending Nelson Gallery classes while in elementary school.
The second owners were Frank G. Altman Jr. and Virginia Aikins Altman in the early 1960s. Mr. Altman co-founded the Altman-Singleton & Co. Insurance Agency. The Altmans had three sons, Richard, Frank, and John Altman. Mr. and Mrs. Altman lived in Denver after 1976.
The third owners were Adriance and Richard Altman, the son of Frank Altman and a broker with Altman-Singleton & Co. After they married and started having children which included four daughters they found they needed more room so they took over the house owned by his parents and lived there in the late 1960s. Since they enjoyed Colorado and visited there often, they moved there permanently where they still reside in Littleton.
The fourth owners in the 1970s through the late 1990s were Frank P. Sebree II and Mary Ann Menefee Sebree. He was an attorney who practiced with Shook, Hardy & Bacon which was established by his grandfather. He also served six years as a member of the Kansas City Council and on various boards such as Truman Medical Center.
Mary Ann Sebree was a member of the Junior League and had an avid interest in antiques which led to a career in estate appraisals and the founding of the Sebree Galleries at 301 E. 55th Street in the Crestwood Shops. The Sebrees and their four children traveled the world looking for antiques, some of which were incorporated into the Showhouse such as the 18th century French carved fruitwood fireplace surround in the living room. The Sebrees added the circle drive in front of the house.
Finally, the fifth owners from the late 1990s to the present are David H. Aull and the late Judy Staples Aull. David had a venture capital firm which financed Hilton hotels. There is a bronze sculpture of an eagle off the patio which was given to him by the Hilton family. Judy had a music degree from Trinity University. When they moved to Kansas City as empty nesters, she found she had a natural talent for remodeling older homes and gardening.
Judy was a volunteer at the Wornall House Garden and showed her garden for the 2008 Garden Tour. In 2013 she showed her garden for the Master Gardeners’ tour. The Aulls added a prize-winning atrium to the house in 2016 and the large garden is an important design area of the home.
The tradition will live on when daughter Amy and her husband Peter Murphy will buy the Showhouse from her father. Peter owns a firm called Eurotool which manufactures equipment for goldsmithing and jewelry making. We thank the Aull family for sharing their home with us.
-Beverly Shaw, House Historian