When a newly renovated Lee’s Summit park opens soon, many residents will be driving on Chipman Road to reach the playground and trail.
The four-lane thoroughfare was once a block-long gravel track named for a family that owned one of several orchards dotting the area.
The area’s commerce, early on, was heavy in agriculture – orchards, horses and cattle – because of its proximity to the railroad line running through the heart of town, said Kathy Smith, president of the Lee’s Summit Historical Society.
“During its agricultural heyday, Lee’s Summit had thousands of acres of pear and apple orchards,” Smith said.
However, apple trees don’t live forever and pressure to add housing stock for returning servicemen after World War II contributed to Lee’s Summit’s change to a suburb.
One orchard, Western Missouri Nurseries in particular, was know across the country, owned by James Bayles, and was later developed into the Bayless Addition, that’s now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Chipman Road as it is built now resulted from that growth, partly to serve the former Western Electric plant, a subsidiary of AT&T which is now the site of Summit Technology Campus. Before that, the campus was Elm Tree Farm which was known for American Saddle Bred horses.
The road got its name from Claude Chipman.
He was born in Minneapolis, Kansas, Smith said, and worked in his father’s law practice. He was admitted to the Kansas Bar but never practiced law, she said. He moved to Lee’s Summit in 1920 to manage his 27-acre orchard. In 1943 he sold the orchard, buying a home on Market Street then worked at Unity Village’s orchards for seven years and also a foreman of farm stock. Chipman also served as a Kansas City election judge, she said.
Growth meant Lee’s Summit needed another main road east-west through town.
On one old map, Chipman Road’s route was only a one-block stub between Main and Douglas streets but then called Lizzy Road, said Bob Hartnett, deputy director of public works.
He said that when he moved to Lee’s Summit as a boy in 1966, Chipman was gravel lane between Corder and Howard streets.
In 1968, Hartnett said, residents passed a $1.75 million bond issue to build Chipman and improvements for two other streets.