John Wornall House in Kansas City

Real Estate Agent with Chartwell Kansas City Realty SP00229578 2007027091


John Wornall House in Kansas City

The John Wornall House was built by John Bristow Wornall in 1858 when Kansas City was still considered "out west" by most Americans. The brick Greek Revival style home, located at 6115 Wornall Road, is overflowing with history.  Last week, I met a member of Ghost Vigil at the evening Winter Chill tour of the home. According to her, the light spots in some of the photos are called "orbs" and indicate the presence of a ghostly spirit.

candace leading tour John Wornall House


Can you see the orb in the photo on the right? It's over the mantel in the front room where John often smoked his pipe filled with Cherry tobacco.They say that you can sometimes smell the cherry tobacco when John's ghost is around.


Candace, standing by the window, kept us enthralled with stories as she lead us through the John Wornall House Museum.


We learned that this Brookside home has good reason to host ghosts as many people died in the house. During the Civil War, the farm house was used as a hospital by both Confederate and Union soldiers, depending upon who was winning the battle at the moment.


According to receipts found on site, it cost John about $4,500 to have the house built by local craftsmen.  At the time, it was the largest and most prestigious home south of Westport.  The limestone foundation was hauled in from the Missouri river; bricks were fired in a kiln on-site.  It is a sturdy old farmhouse with walls that are one foot thick.

kitchen John Wornall House


The kitchen is located at the back of the home. Approximately 12 by 15 feet, it was a bustling place in its' time.  As one of the leaders of Kansas City, John entertained frequently.  He was also responsible for feeding the many workers he employed on his farm.










During the Civil War, this room was used as a surgery.

There is a pass-through between the dining room and kitchen but the entrance is actually outside of the home off of a covered porch.  From the porch, you can enter the house to the west, the kitchen to the north or the bathroom to the east.


John married Eliza Shalcross when she was 14 years old.  They had seven children; two of whom survived beyond childhood.  (Infant mortality rates were high back then.)  After Eliza died, John married her cousin, Roma.  John and Roma had another two children who lived to become adults. 

Master Bedroom


This is the bedroom where Eliza gave birth to all seven children.  The wallpaper and decor throughout the home is accurate to the period of the home.


John & Liza's bed







The dishes on the bed are said to be Eliza's favorite china.  It is also said that the ghost most often seen in this room is Eliza.  A spiritualist reported that Eliza was not happy with John's choice of Roma as his second wife. The medium said that Eliza said "Of all the women he had to choose from, why did it have to be her?"

John Wornall owned four slaves. According to old census records, there were 2 men, 1 woman and 1 child. Their names were Jim, George and Allen; no name is recorded for the woman. After the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, the freed slaves stayed on the Wornall farm for some time. 

 The front parlor is grand yet comfortable to this day. Considering it was a farmhouse, on 400+ acres, it was quite an accomplishment in 1858.

Determined to bring culture to this cow town, Roma had this piano shipped in from back east.  Front parlor











During the Civil War, Missouri had sympathizers on both sides.  John Wornall tried to remain neutral but was robbed and beaten several times - the Bushwhackers nearly hung him from the balcony once!  He was saved at the last minute by the cavalry - just like in the movies!

In 1864, Eliza's father, Reverend Thomas Johnson was killed by Bushwhackers who sent a message to John that if he returned to his country home, they would kill him too.  John and his family moved to their Kansas City home at 9th & Main after the funeral of Eliza's father.

Eliza died while they lived in their city house; John returned to the country house in 1870 with his wife, Roma.

dining room 

Front parlor












I am seated in the woman's chair which has no arms because hoop skirts, worn by ladies in the 1850's, could not fit into chairs with arms.  The man's chair, with arms, is facing the door and the window.




The John Wornall House Museum is open for public tours Tuesday through Saturdays from 10am until 4pm and Sundays from 1pm until 4pm.  Reservations are recommended for special events.  Whether you are interested in architecture, history or ghosts, touring the Wornall House is a delightful way to spend a few hours when you visit Kansas City! 

Maria Morton 816.560.3758

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Sandra White
John L Scott Real Estate - Port Townsend, WA
Experienced Residential Resale Broker

Very interesting home and post.  Thank you for sharing that and all the wonderful photos. 

Jan 25, 2010 06:49 AM #1
Maria Morton
Chartwell Kansas City Realty - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

Sandra, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad that enjoyed the post on John Wornall House Museum in Kansas City. It is truly a wonderful part of our history.

Jan 25, 2010 07:21 AM #2
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Maria, I loved this tour and that old, stately home and the story to go with it.  I saw the orb and had written a blog about it a while ago....some didn't know what it was while others insisted it was something in the camera.  If I get to Kanas City, this would definitely be a stop on my list of places to see.

Jan 25, 2010 08:32 AM #3
Kathy Clulow
RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage - Uxbridge, ON
Trusted For Experience - Respected For Results

Maria  - interesting about the orbs as I have several photos with multiple orbs in them.

Jan 25, 2010 02:24 PM #4
Tony & Darcy Cannon
Aubrey and Associates Realty - Layton, UT
The C Team

Maria, great post!  I love things like this, historical homes with ghosts, it doesn't get any better than that!

Jan 25, 2010 04:49 PM #5
Maria Morton
Chartwell Kansas City Realty - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

Carole, I'll have to look for your post on orbs since I missed it the first time around. You would love this house!   If Ghost Vigil had not been there, I just would have thought I had a bunch of photos with spots in them.

Kathy, did you know what they were? 

Tony, this Kansas City House in Brookside is steeped in history - my little post just barely grazes the surface. The ghosts are definitely an added attraction that I wasn't expecting!  Glad you enjoyed!

Jan 26, 2010 01:57 AM #6
Irene Tron
Valparaiso, IN

What a great post!  I love touring those old homes.  I've driven through Kansas City and I wish I had known about this home then!  I missed out on some fun.

Jan 26, 2010 06:37 AM #7
Maria Morton
Chartwell Kansas City Realty - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

Irene, Kansas City is a great place to stop for a while - try it, you'll like it!  Call me, I'll show you around.

Jan 26, 2010 02:13 PM #8
Kate Wheeler
Country Homes and Land Murphy NC Realtor - Murphy, NC
CCIM - Murphy NC Real Estate for Sale

Maria, Thanks for the tour!  Old houses are fascinating.  I have orbs all around my garden and wrote a post on them last summer.  Have you ever zoomed in on a photo of one?  We have a picture of an orb that has what looks like the face of an Indian inside the circle and another that is actually multicolored.

Feb 04, 2010 03:51 AM #9
Maria Morton
Chartwell Kansas City Realty - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

Kate, it never occurred to me to zoom in on an orb. I'm going to try it!

Feb 04, 2010 03:41 PM #10
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