Emory J. Sweeney
Emory J. Sweeney was the owner of a series of training schools for technical occupations from
World War I through the 1920s. The "Sweeney Automobile and Tractor School" was started early in
the history of the automobile itself.
Over a dozen different trades were taught at the institution. Although not in existence for
a very long period of time, over 80,000 students traveled through it's doors. During World War I
a large number of draftees were sent there. Classes training automobile mechanics and radio technicians filled to overflowing.
With business booming, Sweeney built a high-rise school building for his classes directly across from Union Station on
Pershing Road in Kansas City, Missouri. The large new school had 550 rooms and there was even a
swimming pool in the basement of the building. It was designed so that later it might be turned
into a hotel. During the flu epidemic of 1918, 2,300 of the 3,000 students contracted the disease, 15 died.
Sweeney also developed the Santa Fe Hills subdivision between Wornall Road and Holmes south of
85th Street in Kansas City. Unfortunately, he suffered financial reverses after the Wall Street
Crash of 1929 and had to sell his Ward Parkway house and close his famous school.
A very early photo of the "Sweeney Automobile School"
The new "Million Dollar Sweeney School"
E. J. Sweeney House, 5921 Ward Parkway.
The Sweeney Lily Pond & Grounds.
This striking scene above on the grounds of the Sweeney home served as the frontispiece for the
chapter on Ward Parkway in the book, "The Grand American Avenue", which was published to
accompany the national exhibit at the American Institute of Architects in Washington, D.C.
9 of the E.J. Sweeney's 10 Children
In addition to providing instruction from hundreds of young men at a time, Sweeney fathered a
large family. The house and oversized lot at 5921 Ward Parkway was designed inside and out for
use by children.
The Sweeney's Children Playground
The photo illustrates the large playground area intended for use by Sweeney’s
ten children. The third floor of the large house consisted of a series of comparatively small
bedrooms for the children.
Printed by permission from The Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Kansas City
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