31st and Cherry area morphed from residential to commercial in early 1900s

This block of 31st Street on the north side between Cherry and Holmes has always served a commercial purpose, but the rest of the block has gone through several changes as it was transformed from residential to business use. Now the area is again being transformed by new owners who are bringing the buildings back to life

This block of 31st Street on the north side between Cherry and Holmes has always served a commercial purpose, but the rest of the block has gone through several changes as it was transformed from residential to business use. Now the area is again being transformed by new owners who are bringing the buildings back to life.

This block between 30th and 31st from Cherry to Holmes is in an area that is coming back to life. Home to the Maker Village, the new Cherry Pit Collective, and the Superior Linen Company, the block that was once mainly residential is almost completely commercial today.

As part of our Uncovering History Project, the Midtown KC Post is taking a look at each block in Midtown, including a set of 1940 tax assessment photos which is available for many blocks. (Many people seem confused by the tax assessment photos, which all include a man holding a sign. Here’s the story behind them).   This week, the block from 30th to 31st and from Cherry to Holmes is our focus.

A residential neighborhood in the early 1900s

This Sanborn Fire Insurance map from 1896-1907 shows the block when it was mainly residential.

This Sanborn Fire Insurance map from 1896-1907 shows the block when it was mainly residential.

An early map shows this block packed with single-family homes built side-by-side along Holmes, Cherry and 30th Streets. The homes are gone today, but photos of the Holmes Street section of homes from 1940 can offer a glimpse of what they once looked like (below).

The Metropolitan Street Railway Company’s Holmes Street barn dominated the corner of 31st and Holmes during this period. Just across Holmes stood fire station #17, which housed 14 men and five horses when the map was made.

 

Houses along Holmes Street as they stood in 1940.

Houses along Holmes Street as they stood in 1940.

Twelve frame homes were packed together along Holmes Street and a dozen mirrored them on Cherry.  Another cluster spanned half of the block at Cherry and 30th Street.

By 1895, families were renting or buying these “modern” frame homes. A newspaper ad for one of them in 1909 said it held an entrance room, parlor, dining room, kitchen and pantry on first floor; three bedrooms with good closets and bathroom on second floor.

The homes have since been replaced by commercial buildings.

Changes as McGee Street becomes a dominated by auto businesses

Map 1907-1950

Map 1907-1950

As automobiles became more a part of life, this area of Kansas City became an auto center.  A Sanborn Fire Insurance map from 1907-1950 shows the change along Cherry (by then McGee Trafficway), where auto sales and services businesses had replaced nearly a dozen homes on the block.

More types of businesses in the 1940s

By 1940, seven of the original houses were still standing on the block, but it was becoming increasingly commercial. The photos below show the non-residential buildings on the block was they looked that year.

 Historic photos courtesy Kansas City Public Library/Missouri Valley Special Collections.

 Do you have memories or more details about this area of Midtown? Please share them with our readers. Would you like us to focus on your block next week? Send us an email.

 Our book, Kansas City’s Historic Midtown Neighborhoods, is available now. Let us know if you want us to come to your neighborhood association or organization’s meeting to share what we’ve learned about Midtown neighborhood history and tell your members how they can help preserve Midtown history. If you’d like to order the book, email Mary Jo Draper at mjdraper@midtownkcpost.com. 

7 Comments

  1. Mary says:

    In the 70’s was there an Italian restaurant on the NE corner of 31st or Linwood and Charlotte or Holmes?

  2. Dale Ealey says:

    Wow! My folks owned our home at 811 E. 31st Terr. from 1957 to 1967. And, we went to church at Baptist Tabernacle, and my brother and I both went to school from K to 7 at Longfellow. From what I understand our narrow little street was originally called Glenerry Place. It’s great to see all these pictures of my old “hood”.

  3. Kenneth Lowrie says:

    My folks and I moved to 3021 Forest in the summer of 54 when I was 8 and I lived there until 68. I went to Longfellow grade school. And then Westport High. Lots of memories from those years.

    • Dale Ealey says:

      Small world! We lived at 811 E. 31st St. Terrace (between Charlotte and Campbell) from 1958 to 1967. I also went to Longfellow school and then Westport until the middle of 9th grade. I drive through that area once in a while and I’m amazed at all the changes. Our old house has been re-hated to the point that it almost looks new. They’ve also changed the name of 31st Terrace back to it’s original name of Glen Airy Place.

  4. Kenneth Lowriekennetk lowrie says:

    The Jones store that was on Troost WAS NOT located on the NE corner of Troost and Linwood as was stated in an article on this site. It was on the NW corner of Troost and 31st. I don’t know how this mistake started, but it needs to be corrected. I’ve even seen posts saying it was on the NE corner of Troost and 31st. The JC Penney store was on the NE corner of troost and 31st built after the Jones store. The building containing the Isis SW corner. And a muilti story buiding on the SE corner

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