House & Home

Don Drummond, David Runnells: Bringing affordable design to Prairie Village

Don Drummond, noted builder of modern ranches in Kansas City in the mid-20th century.
Don Drummond, noted builder of modern ranches in Kansas City in the mid-20th century. File photo

David Runnels (1913-1973) and Don Drummond (1915-2011)

Designed by David Runnels and built by Don Drummond, the midcentury Revere Homes located in Prairie Village were championed as examples of low-cost, high-quality housing.

According to a brochure from the Housing Research Foundation, the design aimed to support the “defense economy” and “demonstrate to your community and to the nation as a whole your part in conserving critical materials, while still offering to the public the utmost in housing livability and housing performance at lowest cost.”

After traveling throughout Europe, Runnels came to Kansas City in the 1940s and briefly served as head of the Kansas City Art Institute’s industrial design department. Later, his architecture firm, Runnels Clark Waugh and Matsumoto, designed the college’s new Art School building. During his career, he also proposed designs for “climate-wise” houses and a downtown urban renewal project in the brutalist style known as Crosstown Center, which would have been located where the Power & Light District now stands.

Don Drummond built a significant number of modern and early ranch-style homes in the Kansas City area, many of them designed by his wife, Francie. These included a series of homes with flat roofs pioneered by San Francisco-based designer Earl “Flat Top” Smith.

Drummond partnered with Runnels at the urging of J.C. Nichols, who thought an architect should design Drummond’s homes. Drummond liked Runnels’ work so much that he had the architect design his own personal residence, which is unfortunately no longer standing.