Corner Drugstore at 39th and Genessee Served the Neighborhood

Small corner stores with living quarters above are a feature of many neighborhood corners in Midtown, including the southeast corner of 39th and Bell in the Volker neighborhood. This corner shop housed several different drugstores in the early 20th century and has also been used as a neighborhood tavern. These businesses have shared the block between Genessee and Bell from W. 39th to W. 40th with families since the early 1900s.

As part of our Uncovering History Project, the Midtown KC Post is examining each block in Midtown. A set of 1940 tax assessment photos is available for many blocks.

Today, the block between Bell and Genessee from W. 39th Street to W. 40th Street.

A sample of census records from 1910 and 1930 provides a glimpse into life on the block as families and businesses moved in and out.

The photos below show the homes and businesses on the block as they looked in 1940.

The block in 1910

Most of the residents of this block in 1910 were born in the United States, but several immigrated from England, Ireland, or Germany.  The male heads of household worked as wagon makers and barbers and for railroad and packing companies. It was common for households to be headed by widows and to include extended family members.

  • 3918 Genessee: Express wagon worker John L. Bosch, son of German parents, with his England-born wife Agnes and three daughters.
  • 3922 Genessee: Widow and school janitress Malcina McBride, a widowed daughter and a grandson.
  • 3924 Genessee: Widow Corintha Pendleton, 75, with four daughters and a grandson. Two of the daughters worked as proofreaders at a printing company.
  • 3928 Genessee: Commission company cashier Chester Power, 26, with his wife Frances and two daughters.
  • 3934 Genessee: Railroad billing clerk and son of Irish parents Tom Cahill, 42, his Irish-born wife Nellie, and Irish-born mother-in-law Nora Feeley.
  • 3942 Genessee: English immigrant and barber William T. Fuge, 42, his wife Margaret, two sons and two daughters.
  • 1708 W. 40th: Chemical auditor George Lewis, 39, with his wife Maysie, two sons and two daughters, and a boarder named Elsie Anna Holden, age 19.
  • 1712 Genessee: Tailor and German immigrant Christian A. Wall, 55, and his wife Henrietta.
  • 3943 Bell: Wholesale grocery salesman Jesse Klein, 37, his wife Verna, a daughter and a boarder, William Martin, 26, a dentist.
  • 3929 Bell: Two families were listed at this address: Widow Cornelia Gosnell, 63, with her three sons and a daughter, aged 20-33, and lawyer Robert Moore, 31, with his wife Vesta.
  • 3927 Bell: Copper shop foreman James H. Ruede, 62, with his wife Sarah B., four sons and two daughters. The sons worked for the railroads and packing companies, and the daughters worked for the telephone company.
  • 3925 Bell: Building contractor James R. Tibughien, 60, with his wife Elizabeth and a boarder, Conrad Mulligan, 24, a candy company stenographer.
  • 3915 Bell: House carpenter Frank M. Bowser, 50, with his wife Mary, two sons and a daughter.
  • 3909 Bell: Widow Myra Moore, 60; son Harmon, 28; son-in-law Charles Cameron, 34; daughter Nellie, 20; daughter Lora, 35; and daughter Dicy, 38. Most of the children worked in a grocery store.
  • 3905 Bell: Shoemaker John Sauvain, 58.

A Sanborn Fire Insurance map from 1909-1950.

The block in 1930

By 1930, a few more houses had been built on the block, and most of the original families had moved on. Four of the households were headed by women, and the residents included Irish and Swedish immigrant families.

  • 3914 Genessee: Single woman Minnie K. Storrs, 54, two brothers, two nephews and a nephew-in-law, a niece, and a cousin.  The household members worked as carpenters, electricians, and clerks.
  • 3918 Genessee: General repair mechanic Gustave Neubert, 70, and his wife Harriett.
  • 3922 Genessee: Flour packer Roy S. Cravens, 42, and his wife Macie.
  • 3924 Genessee: Beulah Pendleton, 65, now headed the household. She and sister Olive were quilters, and sister Ellen was a monotype printer.
  • 3926 Genessee: Kansas City Terminal towerman George Stoneham, 48, with his wife Golda and uncle-in-law Ed Minieare.
  • 3934 Genessee: Irish immigrant and wholesale meat salesman Patrick J. Clune with his wife Mary, three sons, and a daughter.
  • 3938 Genessee: Widow Margaret Moran, 68, with a son and a daughter.
  • 3940 Genessee: Widow Jane Moore and a daughter.
  • 3942 Genessee: Fuge, now 63, was retired and still lived here with his wife Margaret.
  • 3950 Genessee: Wholesale meat salesman Watson Drebert, 49, with his wife Mabel, two daughters, a son, his mother, and a roomer named Harold Tickett, a city gas company salesman.
  • 1708 W. 40thPark board laborer and Swedish immigrant John Swanson, 64, his wife Telisia, two daughters, and three sons.
  • 1712 W. 40thRadio salesman Dewey McDaniel, 31, his wife Lobilla, a daughter, and three sons. Also at this address were wholesale automobile painter Nathan Blydenburgh, 25, and his wife Nora.
  • 1718 W. 40thRetail clothing tailor and Swedish immigrant Carl A. Magnuson, his wife Elsa or Eala, two daughters and a son.
  • 3943 Bell: Steam railroad switchman George Huffington, 43, his wife Ida, one daughter, and five sons.
  • 3929 Bell: Laundry driver Charles J. Summers, 44, with his wife Martha E., a daughter and two sons.
  • 3917 Bell: David Benjamin, a decorating contractor who collected Indian relics, was selling part of his collection because he was moving to a smaller home.

Businesses along 39thStreet

A 1938 newspaper ad for Gardner Drug.

Along 39th Street, people got on and off the streetcars and stopped by neighborhood businesses on their way to and from home. The building on the corner was for many years a drug store; from the late 1930s to the early 1940s it was Gardner Drugs. By the late 1950s it had become a neighborhood tavern and more recently Gilhouley’s.

In the other storefronts along 39th, businesses over the years included: Roanoke Radio, King’s Beauty Shop, Vern’s Barber Shop, the Artistic Cabinet Shop, the Artistic Antique Shop, and Dick Aubin’s Restaurant.

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


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