Today, the 3100 block of Broadway is made up of commercial office towers, medical and community college buildings. But as recently as 1940, the block looked completely different.
It was then dotted with large family homes like that of the O’Rielly family at 3100 Broadway (the current site of the Penn Tower office building).
In the 1930s and 1940’s. James O’Rielly, who died in the home in 1949, was the president of the Owl Drug Company. He and his brother had several drugstores in downtown Kansas City.
The O’Rielly family witnessed the transformation of Broadway from a residential street to a major commercial corridor. They protested against the rezoning of the house next door in 1933 for business use, but by the mid 1950s this section of Broadway had undergone a major transition, becoming known, according to a 1959 Kansas City Star article, as a “good insurance address” with 17 insurance-related firms located in the area.
Many of the stately old homes were first converted in offices and later torn down and replaced with larger buildings.
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. (Many people seem confused by the tax assessment photos, which all include a man holding a sign. Here’s the story behind them).
The slideshow below shows the 1940s tax photos of the block.
There’s still a lot more to learn. Do you remember this block? What special memories do you have of this section of Midtown, which is now in the Valentine and Old Hyde Park neighborhoods? What questions do you have about it? Let us know and we’ll share your history and help to preserve it on our website.
Would you like us to focus on your block next week? Send us an email.
Our new 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. Order the book
Photos courtesy Kansas City Public Library, Missouri Valley Special Collections.