Do you know the history of this Volker and West 39th Street block?


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.

Today, we look at residences, businesses, and apartment buildings in the Volker neighborhood, from 38th Street south to 39th Street, and State Line Road east to Bell Street

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Johnson Hardware, at 1800 West 39th, and Rainbow Grocery Company, at 1802 West 39th, are among the buildings pictured.

But we would like your help. Do you remember this block in 1940 or in the years since? What special memories do you have of this section of West 39th Street or Volker? What questions do you have about it? 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.

Photos courtesy Kansas City Public Library, Missouri Valley Special Collections. 


  1. Jupiter says:

    sure would be cool if those images could be incorporate into google maps so you could use it to travel back in time.

  2. mark luna says:

    40th and bell. My grandparents have lived there since the late 40’s. To this day! I grew up on 41st…great neighborhood!

  3. Sarah Buchmann says:

    When I was a kid I would go into Johnson’s all of the time. They had a penny gumball machine and I would save all of my pennies for when my dad had to go to the hardware store. My dad and the store owner would sit there and watch me fill my pockets with gumballs one penny at a time.

  4. George Baggett says:

    As a kid in the early 60s, I often visited Johnson’s Hardware. Art and Carl would cut glass on demand, and they showed me how to double glaze windows properly. There store was full of fasteners and these two gentlemen were always willing to help resolve a problem, and they often sent small fix-it jobs my way – fixing broken windows and sash cords. I was in often enough that they would let me step behind the counter to sort through fasteners – especially if they had customers. Fond memories abound.

  5. Mary Byrne says:

    I could take my pressure cooker lid to Johnsons and they would put a new rubber ring on for me. I am also using a hot water heater that their successor installed. Can you believe that?

  6. Hi Mary Byrne,
    Did you live on 30th & Michigan in the 40’s?

  7. Hi Mary Byrne,
    Did you live about 30th and Michigan in the 40’s? You may have known my sister Bette Johnson.


  8. Richard Johnson says:

    My grandmother live on 39th and Terrace just a few blocks west of Loretto Academy where both my mother (in the 1920’s) and my daughter (in the early 60’s) attended. When I was in high school (Lillis) I always got my flat top haircut at Lou’s barber shop just around the corner on 39th Street.

  9. Pam says:

    The buildings that were across the street from Johnson’s are gone but I have fond memories of breakfast in the restaurant that was there – the sort of place where they got to know your order and knew how you took your coffee.

  10. Teresa Daws says:

    Richard Johnson,
    It sounds like you may have gone to Lillis in the 40’s. Did you know any Huggins’ or McVey. My mother (Catherine/Eileen Huggins) graduated 1945. I’m not sure if Ed Huggins and Betty Huggins graduated (cousins of my mother) but they would have attended there in the 40’s and Ed McVey (married my father’s sister/my aunt) also in the 40’s.

    • Richard Johnson says:

      I attended Lillis from 1949-1952. I do remember a McVey family that went to St. Vincent’s grade school and possibly Lillis High. Seems like one of the McVey’s was Jim. Any relation to you?

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