Johnson County Museum

Drive around some of Johnson County’s neighborhoods and you may be able to guess when the neighborhood was developed — based on the architecture alone.

Following World War II, ranch houses were being built at record levels. The single-story, open concept style was the perfect starter home for new families.

“It was the first house ever to be mass produced in the United States,” said Mary Van Balgooy.

Gina Kaufmann / KCUR

Kansas City architect Clarence Shepard was deeply influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie School Style when he designed more than 600 homes and churches in the region a century ago.

Shepard was a native of New York, grew up in Clay Center, Kan., and came to work in Kansas City at the beginning of the 20th century for the Kendall Co. and the J.C. Nichols Co., among others.

Housing construction is showing a 30 percent gain in the first quarter in the Kansas City region, compared with the same period of 2012.The reference is to permits for residential building  and amounts to 832 single family houses. There were 640 in the first three months of last year.

The numbers bear watching, as the  executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City notes.  Sara Corless said, should the trend hold or increase, construction might be back at 2007 levels by end of the year.

As the economy drags, the size of homes is diminishing… and it’s by consumer demand.