Prairie Village Shopping Center

Once a week, for the past four years, I have taken my son Emil to his weekly piano lesson in the basement of the Prairie Village Shopping Center. Formerly part of the Toon Shop, a beloved music shop that operated upstairs from 1948 until 2011, the underground practice rooms are now home to The Village Music Academy, whose instructors continue to teach a new generation of burgeoning musicians. The winding web of studios is curious and labyrinth-like, and while it’s an adequate spot to sit and read for 30 minutes, lately I’ve been opting instead to enjoy the evening temps in the open-air courtyard, watching the foot traffic, reading, or just chatting with my daughter during lesson time. 

The Prairie Village Shopping Center is a beautifully landscaped plaza with Colonial Revival architectural features and limestone accents, offering retail shopping and dining options to mostly affluent clientele. Sprinkled in are a handful of practical outposts including a hardware store, a grocery store, an urgent care facility, a gas station and a few banks amid a variety of hardworking, local small businesses. On the south end is the now-vacant Macy’s department store (formerly The Jones Store), with 128,000 square feet awaiting a new purpose. 

The creation of the PV Shopping Center is a familiar local tale that mirrors the history of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, sharing the same developer, J.C. Nichols. The land was originally inhabited by the Shawnee, Osage and Kansa Indian tribes, then purchased and occupied by Thomas Porter and family from 1858 until the 1940s when Nichols bought the land and began to build housing stock for soldiers and families settling in Kansas after WWII. 

Completed in 1948, the Prairie Village Shopping Center was strategically built between 69th and 71st Streets (north to south), and between Mission Rd and Tomahawk Rd (east to west). It catered to nearby residents and served as a commercial divider between the large, expensive homes and golf course (now Indian Hills Country Club) in Mission Hills, Kansas, and the post-war, smaller suburban starter-homes of Prairie Village, Kansas. 

While all of this history presents a variety of conversational topics and deeper discussions, my focus here is to document the Prairie Village Shopping Center in photos, as it looks today, in 2023. I have chosen not to highlight or promote specific businesses or individual shoppers and instead want to show “The Village” looking its finest in the golden hour of a late-summer weekday evening.  Props to the folks who maintain the beautiful (and large!) floral planter arrangements that line the sidewalks and keep up the general tidiness of the area. Remember to always support local and small businesses in your community! It wouldn’t be quite the community it is without them!

All photography © Jennifer Wetzel Photography, 2023



Aerial photograph, 1960: Missouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri Referring URL

City of Prairie Village, Kansas:

SAH Archipedia:

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