Willard Winner: investor, land developer, the man behind the trolley, and the name-sake of today's Winner Road.
Englewood Station was first developed in the late 1800's. It began as a retail area, touted as being the metro's first suburban shopping district. The area catered to the passengers of a trolley link that ran from the eastern edge of Kansas City through the western end of Independence.
The trolley brought Kansas-Citians to Willard Winner's amusement park in the Mount Washington area. This trolley line ran right down the center of Winner Road, which had been given a 100 foot right-of-way in order to accommodate the trolley.
With the coming of the automobile, trolley ridership declined. By the 1940's, the trolley line had been shut down. Yet most of the wide parkway of Winner Road remains today. When the tracks were removed from the Englewood Station area, their space was allocated to automobile parking.
The Englewood Theater was build in 1940. By the late 1950's, the district boasted more that 60 businesses that addressed the residents' basic needs, including restaurants, hardware stores, barbers, laundry services, bakeries, automobile filling and service stations, and an array of medical services.
In the 1970's, Englewood Station's retail strength began to decline, as people started favoring larger suburban shopping centers in outlying areas. Many businesses closed their doors throughout the 80's and 90's.
But in recent years, a group of local enthusiasts have been fighting to revitalize Englewood Station. Several of the area's long-term businesses continue to thrive, but are now joined by new ventures. Seeing the sparks starting to generate in Englewood, the City of Independence partnered with the Missouri Dept. of Transportation to install new decorative streetlights and make other infrastructure improvements in 2007.
In September 2011, the Independence City Council officially designated and rezoned the area into an official Arts District. This was soon followed by further streetscape improvements to the area.
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