O’Briens lend a good Irish name to Lee’s Summit street

rpulley@lsjournal.comMarch 14, 2014 

With St. Patrick’s Day bringing lots of weekend activity to Lee’s Summit, a little history of O’Brien Road is of interest.

O’Brien is north of Third Street, running between Pryor Road east toward the middle of Lee’s Summit, where swinging south it becomes Main Street.

That area once was all country, with Lee’s Summit’s population at about 2,500, when Luke and Frances O’Brien bought 36 acres then northwest of town.

One of his sons, Larry O’Brien, 95, shared a few recollections of the farm and its development with The Journal.

Larry O’Brien said his father and mother, Luke and Frances O’Brien, bought the land from Seth Ward in 1932. The family moved to the farm in 1933. His father’s primary occupation was a contractor, a partner in the Cook-O’Brien Construction Co. that built rail bed for the Santa Fe Railroad.

The couple then bought two more farms, 65 acres that eventually would become The Summit shopping center and 120 acres that the O’Briens would develop as the Summit View subdivision.

“All the streets were named after family members and people close to my father,” O’Brien said, accounting for Donovan Street, Kay Drive and Frances Road. Carroll Street was named after his father’s secretary. Luke O’Brien split the property into about 100 one-acre lots, limiting construction to one house per lot.

Larry O’Brien said that his father had moved to Kansas City and then to Lee’s Summit from Keokuk, Iowa, where his grandfather had immigrated from Ireland. His mother was from Tulsa, Okla., he said, but he didn’t recall how they met.

Larry O’Brien and a brother farmed the three places until World War II, then entered military service. Raised a lot of horses, hogs, chickens, and other stock, he said.

The 36-acre farm eventually sold. The one remnant building is a log cabin Luke O’Brien built for his large family in 1934, which was overflowing the farmhouse. The cabin sits on property now owned by Our Lady of Presentation Catholic Church.

The couple had six girls and three boys, too many to be comfortable in the house, so the cabin was built. It was without plumbing, standard for those days.

“The men slept in the cabin,” Larry O’Brien said. “Mother and the daughters slept in the house.”

The boys went to the main house for breakfast.

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