Chesterfield Village in Springfield (Photo by Steve Pokin)

Answer Man: We moved to Springfield in 2006. I have long wondered about the origins of Chesterfield Village at South Kansas Expressway, near the James River Freeway. I hear snippets of how it came to be, but I suspect you could tell the story. The area has seen a resurgence but I wonder: How can it be that there is no coffee shop in Chesterfield Village? — Jim MacKay, of Springfield

I should mention that Jim is a financial planner with an office in Chesterfield Village. We met April 19 at an event the Springfield Daily Citizen held for some of our subscribers.

If you’ve never been to Chesterfield Village, you should check it out. The brick buildings hug wide streets with sparkling green medians. Parking is behind the structures.

You can do many wonderful things there.

You can eat Mexican, or Italian or sample Japanese Soul Food.

You can get your hair styled, face de-wrinkled or soul saved.

You can chat up a reporter at the Springfield Business Journal, retain a lawyer or drop a mat and do Pilates.

And on top of all that, if you have a use for a giant fork — this is your place.

The fork was designed in the 1990s by Noble and Associates, a local advertising company, for a restaurant on South Glenstone Avenue. It was relocated to 2215 W. Chesterfield St. when the business closed. (Photo by Steve Pokin)

But in a world rampant with coffee shops, you can walk the streets of this charming enclave and not find a single one.

At least one not on wheels.

Once a month, Amber Ottoson hauls her Trailer Perk Coffee shop to the parking lot outside Botox & Co. in the village.

Ottoson founded her business five years ago. You can track her locations on Instagram.

“It’s horrible,” says Madeline Fluty, who works at Botox and occasionally invites Ottoson to this coffee desert.

Fluty works on someone’s eyelashes as she talks to me. Her coffee drink — The Tornado, a caramel latte — is within reach.

I stopped at this and several other businesses and most people said, yes, definitely, life would be better with a coffee shop down the street.

I didn’t ask any pedestrians because there weren’t any.

State Farm Agent Jennifer Hazelrigg tells me — while holding her coffee cup — that there hasn’t been a coffee shop in the neighborhood for some 15 years.

Outside is Chad Woody, who has been maintenance man at Chesterfield Village 21 years.

“There have been at least three, maybe four, coffee shops” in the village, he says. They were all in the same location at different times.

He recalls that one was called Village Coffee. Another was Village Coffee and Sweets.

I searched newspaper archives and found one in 1996 called Kenny’s Coffee Connection. It opened in December 1995. Bob and Elaine Kenny were owners; they once lived in Boulder, Colorado.

I don’t know how important foot traffic is to having a successful coffee shop, but I mention to Woody that I saw none.

“The foot traffic has always been about the same,” Woody says. “It’s probably up a little now with the people living in the lofts. There’s a little more dog walking.

“There’s always been a desire for that,” he says of a coffee shop. “But a lot of people just drive right by.”

The history of Chesterfield Village

The development concept was to be the antithesis of strip malls and big-box retail stores. Construction of Chesterfield Village started in 1993 for a mix of homes, apartments and offices.

The idea was to recreate a community like one from the 1920s and 1930s.

“It’s designed to get away from the rat race,” said developer Larry Lipscomb in a December 1993 story in the Springfield News-Leader. “If you could live and shop and work in one area, wouldn’t life be wonderful?”

A major north-south road touching Chesterfield Village is Cox Road.

The development has a Lester E. Cox connection. Cox founded CoxHealth.

Cox was a successful businessman, as well as a philanthropist. He died in 1968 at the age of 72. Lipscomb is his grandson.

The 1993 story said Lipscomb was one of nine Cox heirs involved in the Chesterfield Village project. Lipscomb was point man.

I interviewed Lipscomb for an Answer Man column I wrote for the News-Leader in July 2019.

There’s a sign, Jim, in Chesterfield Village that says: “Modern Tractor & Supply Co. Dearborn Development.”

Lester Cox was a distributor of tractors and in 1939 he and his wife Mildred attended the World’s Fair in New York City, where they saw a Ford tractor demonstration.

Cox was convinced that the new Ford tractor would be a sensation, especially here in the nation’s breadbasket.

He asked to become a distributor and Henry Ford II, grandson of the founder, said yes.

Cox founded the Ozark Tractor & Implement Company in 1941. It became the Modern Tractor & Supply Co.

Cox realized in selling Ford tractors that the people who knew them best were the farmers who used them. So he wanted his sales team and distributors to have that knowledge, as well.

He created Kickapoo Prairie Farm in southwest Springfield.

Today, it’s the site of Chesterfield Village.

Cox became the top seller of Ford tractors in the world. The farm fields here were the classrooms for the students’ “basic training.” Machinery was taken apart and put back together again.

More than 3,000 men took the course, among them 75 executives of the parent company, Dearborn Motors Corporation.

At the farm, there was a bunkhouse and the visiting men enjoyed big cookouts, he says. The bunkhouse still stands.

Cox eventually switched to David Brown tractors, made in Huddersfield, England.
Kickapoo Prairie Farm closed in 1964.

In that 2019 story, I asked Lipscomb why he named the development “Chesterfield.”

“I’m the one who picked it,” he told me. “I thought ‘Chesterfield’ sounded kind of western.”

This is Answer Man column No. 9.

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin