Natural and Cultural Features of Kansas City, part 5: Library District

Library District (West 9th Street-Baltimore Avenue Historic District (N39o6’10” W94o35’5”)) consists of more than 20 NRHP-listed buildings, dating to 1880. These early commercial buildings were constructed at the busiest intersections in the city during the late 1800s. Buildings are on West 9th Street, West 10th Street, Baltimore Avenue, Main Street, and Wyandotte Street. Notable buildings are:

National Register-Listed Buildings on West 9th Street:

  • New York Life Building, 20 West 9th Street (N39o6’14” W94o35’3”), is a Neo-Renaissance Building dating to 1887. It is considered Kansas City’s first skyscraper and the city’s first building with elevators. It is separately listed on the NRHP. There is a bronze sculpture of an eagle over the main entrance. The eastern insurance company built the building hoping to take advantage of Kansas City emerging as the future center of commerce in the West. It is now the Catholic Center.
  • Bunker Building, 100 West 9th Street and 820 Baltimore Avenue (N39o6’14” W94o35’3”), dates to 1880, and is separately listed on the NRHP. The building is described as Victorian Eclectic, an amalgam of Romanesque, Gothic and Neo-Classic elements. It was originally the home of the Western Newspaper Union, which later moved to 304 West 10th Street (which is also on the NRHP). It is now Univision KC and partly vacant.
  • Wood’s Building, 101 West 9th Street, dates to 1881. It is now the Milwaukee Deli and Banksia Australian Restaurant.
  • Lyceum Building, 102 West 9th Street, dates to 1895.
  • Kansas City Dime Museum, 110 West 9th Street, dates to 1885. It began as a museum of freaks and curiosities and later became Kansas City’s first art gallery, the Western Gallery of Art, a forerunner of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
  • Old New England Life Mutual Insurance Building, 112 West 9th Street (N39o6’14” W94o35’6”), a Renaissance Revival style building dating to 1887. It was also the earliest example of fire-proof construction in Kansas City. It is separately listed on the NRHP and is now KC Loft Central.
  • Savoy Hotel and Grill, 219 West 9th Street at Central Avenue (N39o6’12” W94o35’11”), separately listed on the NRHP, which was constructed from 1890 to 1906. It is a member of the Historic Hotels of America and now operates as part of the 21c Museum Hotel group. Its lobby is noted for a leaded stained-glass dome 12 feet in diameter. The restaurant includes stained glass, dark oak woodwork, and historic murals by Edward Holsleg. It is the oldest restaurant in Kansas City.

National Register-Listed Buildings on West 10th Street:

  • First National Bank, 14 West 10th Street, now the Kansas City Public Library, was constructed in 1904. It contains Neo-Classic, Neo-Grecian, and Chicago style elements.
  • Land Bank Building, 15 West 10th Street between Baltimore and Main (N39o6’7” W94o35’1”), is a Renaissance-style building which dates to 1923. It housed the offices of the Kansas City Joint Stock Land Bank, which gave federal loan guarantees to farmers under the Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916. It is adjacent to the historic district and is separately listed on the NRHP. It is now the Hanover Lofts.
  • New England National Bank, 21 West 10th Street, is a 14-story building which dates to 1907. A carved stone eagle is above the arch of the main entrance.
  • Dwight Building, 107 West 10th Street, is 10 stories and dates to 1902. It was the first steel-frame building constructed in Kansas City. It is the Hispanic Business Center and Library Lofts East
  • Burnap Stationery Company, 111 West 10th Street, is a 6-story building dating to 1909. It was one of the largest retail office supply companies in the U.S.
  • Board of Trade Building, 127 West 10th Street, is a 13-story building dating to 1923. It housed businesses specializing in grain, railroads, insurance, and chemicals. It is now the Board of Trade Lofts.
  • The parking garage with an entrance just north of 10th street was the site of the Hotel Baltimore, where the Future Farmers of America was founded in 1928. The section fronting West 10th Street contains a graphic of books.
  • Western Newspaper Union Building, 304 West 10th Street at Central Street (N39o6’9” W94o35’14”) dates to 1900; it is to the west of the historic district. It was the site of the largest auxiliary newspaper company in the United States. This type of business sold pre-printed content to small-town newspapers in surrounding states. This typically focused on national news to supplement the local news content. The basement of the building housed large printing presses needed to meet demand of 200 or so small-town newspapers in Missouri, Kansas, and nearby states. At the corner of 10th and Central, northeast corner, is a park bench with a statue of Mark Twain.
  • Fire Department Headquarters, 1020 Central Street (N39o6’5” W94o35’14”), dates to 1905. This was the home of Kansas City’s Fire Department and Fire Station #2 until 1980. Beaux Arts Classicism architectural style includes ribbed Doric columns in the front of the building. The building is separately listed on the NRHP and is south of the historic district. It now houses offices for Folly Theater.

National Register-Listed Buildings on Baltimore Avenue:

  • La Rue Printing Company, 810 Baltimore, dates to 1910, and includes Chicago-influenced elements.
  • Lane Blueprint Company, 908 Baltimore, is a Neo-Classical style building dating to 1905.
  • Carbide and Carbon Building (Union Carbide Building), 912 Baltimore, is an Art Deco and Moderne Style building dating to 1930.
  • Kansas City School of Law Building, 913 Baltimore, is a Jacobethan and Chicago-Influenced building dating to 1926. The law school was attended by Harry Truman and many former mayors and justices of the state supreme court. It is currently the Kansas City Public Library annex.
  • University Club Building, 918 Baltimore, is a Neo-Classical building dating to 1922. It currently operates as the Kansas City Club.
  • Finance Building, 1009 Baltimore, includes Chicago-style influences and dates to 1908. It is used for lofts today.

National Register-Listed Buildings on Wyandotte Street:

  • Frankel, Frank, and Company Building, 811 Wyandotte Street, dates to 1899. Frankel, Frank, and Company was a millinery wholesale business. It later housed a succession of businesses, including carpet, dry goods, rubber, and drugs. The building is currently Trozollo Communications Group.
  • Baker-Vawter Building, 915 Wyandotte Street (N39o6’12” W94o35’7”), dates to 1920 and is separately listed on the NRHP. The building was designed by the prominent Kansas City architectural firm of Hoit, Price, and Barnes. Baker-Vawter was a national manufacturer of accounting ledgers and inventory and filing systems. It adjoins the West 9th Street-Baltimore Avenue Historic District.
  • Graphic Arts Building, 934 Wyandotte Street (N39o6’9” W94o35’9”), is separately listed on the NRHP and is to the west of the historic district. The building contains Arts and Crafts terra cotta elements. The building of the Kansas City Graphic Arts Organization began as a center for commercial printing. The building housed printing presses. Thompson Paper Company, which occupied space in the building, counted as its clients Walt Disney and Hallmark Cards. Other tenants were suppliers of paper and ink, printers, and engravers. Photographers and filmmakers also were tenants. The building dates to 1915 and is now lofts.

National Register-Listed Buildings on Main Street:

  • Executive Plaza Office Building (The Flashcube Apartments), 720 Main Street (N39o6’17” W94o35’1”), is separately listed on the NRHP and is adjacent to the historic district. It is considered an exceptionally significant example of Late Modern style architecture and dates to 1974. It was built as a speculative office building by the Downtown Redevelopment Corporation. It is adjacent to the Historic District. The distinctive external architectural feature is a reflective glass curtain wall. This curtain wall is considered a significant example of the feature. The reflective glass on the building gave it the nickname “the flashcube.” There is no added ornamentation on the curtain wall. A landscaped plaza on Main Street is on the roof of a storage building which is below street grade. On the north side is an elevated pedestrian walkway which is considered a contributing structure to the historic property.
  • Ten Main Center, 920 Main Street (N39o6’9” W94o35’0”), is separately listed on the NRHP and dates to 1965. Designed by Los Angeles architect Charles Luckman, the 21-story office tower and 7-story garage introduced a new style of architecture to Kansas City, that of Modern Abstract Monumental style, notable for use of pre-cast concrete panels that form a curtain wall. The building was the first urban renewal project of the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, a city agency set up to manage Kansas City’s federally funded urban renewal areas. The Central Business District is one of these urban renewal areas. The first tenants were Employers Reinsurance Corporation, Ash Grove Lime and Portland Cement Company, and Marshall and Brown Architects. The Sky on Main apartments are in the building. Across Main Street from the building are the Commerce Trust Company Historic District and Commerce Tower, also on the NRHP.
  • George B. Peck Dry Goods Company Building, 1044 Main Street (N39o6’4” W94o35’1”), is separately listed on the NRHP and is adjacent to the historic district; it dates to 1914. It is one of the few remaining dry goods companies that anchored the heart of the downtown retail district and operated as a department store for 70 years. Today it is BOK Financial.