Campbell Baking Company dominated the block at 30th and Troost

The Wonder Bread Building at 30th and Troost, built in 1914 as the Campbell Baking Company, has been in the news because of a redevelopment plan for the site. Seen here in 1923, the company baked and delivered bread to many people in Midtown Kansas City.

The Wonder Bread Building at 30th and Troost, built in 1915 as the Campbell Baking Company, has been in the news because of a redevelopment plan for the site. Seen here in 1918, the company baked and delivered bread to many people in Midtown Kansas City.

A developer told the Midtown KC Post last week about his preliminary plans for reuse of the historic Campbell Bakery Company site at 30th and Troost. That has led us to a look back at the block where the building still stands, an area home to stately residences at the turn of the 20th century, transformed into a commercial area in the 1920s, and now the subject of growing interest in redevelopment.

 As part of our Uncovering History Project, the Midtown KC Post is taking a look at the 1940 tax assessment photos of 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 29th to 30th and from Troost to Forest in Beacon Hill is our focus.

 A residential block, home to businessmen in 1910

This 1896-1907 Sanborn Fire Insurance map shows a completely residential block, with large homes on good-sized lots.

This 1896-1907 Sanborn Fire Insurance map shows a completely residential block, with large homes on good-sized lots.

Before the Campbell Bread Company and later the Nazarene Publishing headquarters came to dominate the block, it was home to large, carefully-crafted homes. Before Nazarene built on the southeast corner of 29th and Troost, three homes stood there. Charles and Margueta Schaeffer lived at 2905, the northernmost of the three, in 1903.

The 1910 census gives us a glimpse of the residents of Forest Avenue, whose homes were gradually replaced as the block was converted from residential to commercial use.

  • 2900 Forest: Walter Bales, a fire insurance agent, lived here with his wife Clara, their daughter, two sons, and three servants.
  • 2904 Forest: Gordon Beaham, president of a starch company, lived here with his wife Grace and two sons, two servants and a nurse.
  • 2908 Forest: John C. Fennell, vice-president of a department store and his wife Mame and son lived here with two servants, one white and one listed as Negro.
  • 2910 Forest: William Marrsell, a real estate agent, and his wife Francis lived here with their daughter Theresa, as well as another daughter Imogene, her husband Robert O.S. Smith and a servant.
  • 2916 Forest: Samuel C. Lee, another real estate agent and his wife Laurie lived here.
  • 2920 Forest: William Roch, proprietor of a floral businesses and his wife Lucy lived with a son and one servant. Listed at the same address was Edward M. Smith, his wife Betty and three sons.
  • 2928 Forest: Henry Duke, retired, and his wife Eva lived here with their son, his mother and two servants.
  • 2930 Forest: Livonia Kellogg and her daughter, son, granddaughter and three servants lived here.
  • 2940 Forest: Caroline Deardorff and her son, daughter in law and granddaughter lived with Edwin Shields, her son in law and and wife Martha and their two children.

The slideshow below shows the homes that once stood on Forest and Troost as they looked in 1940.

As Kansas City expands southward, businesses and apartments join homes

But the block changed quickly. By 1915, the Campbell Baking Company built its original building on the northwest corner of 29th and Troost. That building was expanded several times, coming to dominate the block.

cambell-baking-1923

Campbell Baking’s plant and a delivery wagon in 1923.

Campbell Baking, according it its National Historic Register nomination, was begun by Kansas City natives and brothers Brayton and Win Campbell in 1910. They also had businesses in Wichita and Des Moines. The Campbells decided to put their bakery and distribution center in a strategic location at 30th and Troost to put them near customers and facilitate delivery in their company trucks.

Campbell was known for its Merit Bread and also made an unusual healthy whole wheat bread called Maid O The Wheat Bread.

According to the historic nomination, the Troost plant had coal bins, a steam plant, and the capacity to produce 50,000 loaves a day. The Campbells also acquired thirty trucks so it could deliver fresh products to Kansas City.

A map from 1909-1950 shows a transformed block, with Nazarene Publishing and the Continental Baking Company replacing former homes.

A map from 1909-1950 shows a transformed block, with Nazarene Publishing and the Continental Baking Company replacing former homes.

Campbell retained its local identity even as it became a part of the United Bakeries Corporation and then Continental Bakery in the 1920s. That company, of course, is known for its Hostess products and Wonder Bread.

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. 

The Forest Manor Apartments at the northwest corner of 30th and Troost.

The Forest Manor Apartments at the northwest corner of 30th and Troost.

 

Leave a Comment