Although a recent satellite image shows only a large parking lot at the corner of Thirty-first and Holmes, that location was bustling in earlier days. From the 1920s to the 1940s, 31st Street between Holmes and Gillham Road was packed with a tight row of storefronts, put to various purposes. During those decades, the tenants includes a bank, a drug store, beauty shops and the Wilson Coffee Shop, where Maud Wilson became a local celebrity during prohibition for smashing up a saloon just around the corner with an ax.
The largest business on the block was Borden’s Home Dairy, which moved into its “most modern” plant at 3112 Holmes in 1939. Another popular Kansas City business on the block was Kate Hinkle’s French Laundry, which specialized in “delicate, lovely things whose laundering requires a particular technique, fancy quilts and blankets, curtains, linens and centerpieces.”
When these photos were taken in 1940, Anheuser-Busch had space on Gillham Road. The American Chair Rental Company served the community from its location at 3107 Gillham. And that same block housed a variety of automobile dealers over the years.
The slideshow bellows shows the rest of the buildings on the block as they looked in 1940.
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).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.