by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
If you have driven south on Main Street toward Eagles’ Parkway and beyond, you have driven past this house. This photograph was taken in the spring of 1926, so the house has changed a bit. It is now painted brown; a room has been added on the front and an addition on the back. The porch is a bit longer and the bottom third of the post supporting the porch roof is surrounded by stone.
Known as the “Little House,” it was part of the original Sni-A-Bar Farms. Today, it is all that remains of Sni-A-Bar that is inhabitable, although right now it appears to be vacant. Since early 2001 it has been a gift shop, a law office and an insurance office.
The children in the front yard are Isabelle, 8; Charlie, 10, and Billy Napier, 16. When they, along with their parents James and Belle, and an older brother Jim came to Grain Valley in 1922, this was their home. After they moved up on the hill by the “Big House,” the Becker family lived in the house. Mrs. Becker furnished food for the farm hands that lived in the bunk house, behind this home.
Several years later, this was my parents’ first home after they were married in 1937. My mother ran the boarding house in those days and most of the boarders were college students there for a semester to learning about the experiments taking place at Sni-A-Bar. I’m not sure about others that lived in the house except the Starke Family. Bob Starke worked on the farm for Mr. Batman during the 1950s and 60s. Barbara Starke was the school music teacher and I along with many others took piano lessons in the room that had been added to the left front of the house.
With a laundromat on the north side and a car lot on the south side, I wonder about the future for this “little house” that is now over 100 years old.