The Mount Washington/Fairmount neighborhoods are located in northwestern Independence, Missouri. They generally lie to the east of Hardy Avenue, west of Brookside Avenue, south of Norledge Avenue, and north of Truman Road.
Once the home to two different amusement parks, Mount Washington and Fairmount were originally utilized by wealthy residents of Kansas City who traveled by “dummy line” to the country to enjoy fresh air and take in the sites. What is today Mount Washington Cemetery was, in the 1880s, a 382 acre park site with a 20 acre lake featuring attractive swans and boat rentals where families and couples could picnic and enjoy live music. This park closed around 1900 when it became Mount Washington Cemetery. The stone bus stop on U.S. 24 Highway marked the original north entrance to this park.
By 1892, the electric trolley line brought Kansas City residents to a new park developed north of U.S. 24 Highway that included what is today both Independence and Sugar Creek to the north of the Fairmount Business District. Originally called Cusenbary Springs, it was later renamed Fairmount Park. This park boasted a pavilion and band stand where the public could enjoy dancing to live bands, practicing at a shooting gallery, and leisurely boat rides. Concert and vaudeville-type acts kept the park filled until the Great Depression when the park closed.
Both Mount Washington and Fairmount’s housing stock began as summer homes for well-to-do Kansas City families. Remnants of these Victorian and Foursquare-style homes can still be found scattered along roads like Brookside and Winner. By the 1920s and 1930s, bungalows appeared in Mount Washington and Fairmount, many of which dominate these neighborhoods today. Post-war housing consists mainly of bungalows and Minimal Traditional architecture. Good concentrations of these bungalows remain along Ash and Hardy, both north and south of U.S. 24 Highway.
This area of Independence was not incorporated into the city limits until the 1950s. This autonomy from the adjacent cities provided an opportunity for the area to develop its own unique character and appeal.
Today, the area is known for its central location to I-435, I-70, and downtown Kansas City, longevity of home ownership, and its varied housing stock. Recent redevelopment projects within the Fairmount Business District, reinvestment from the City of Independence, the Northwest CDC, and other community groups, as well as the adaptive reuse of the historic Mount Washington School has fostered revitalization and renewed interest in these areas.