Parkview Drugstores Started on this Manheim Park Block

David Smolinsky and his sons opened their first Parkview Pharmacy at 46th and Virginia in 1910. The pharmacy was named for its view of Electric Park, a popular amusement park just to the west. Parkview Pharmacy became a popular gathering place for people visiting the park and for the show people who worked there. By 1960, the family had 20 stores in Kansas City and Topeka with $11 million in sales.

A recent aerial photo of the block.

In the early 1900s, this block from Brush Creek Boulevard to Cleaver Boulevard between Tracy and Virginia was best known as the home of the original Parkview Pharmacy. Located just east of the popular Electric Park, in those days the block was a mixture of commercial buildings, apartments (even one designed by Nelle Peters), and modest homes. Judging from at least one story of a tragedy that occurred in 1909, the residents were a close knit group in the early days.

There’s been a lot of change on the block. Electric Park closed in 1925, and a number of the homes built on the block in the early 1900s had been torn down or replaced by commercial businesses.

A 1907 map of the block, showing the Smolinsky’s storefronts and a handful of homes.

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).  Today, the block from Brush Creek Boulevard to Cleaver Boulevard between Tracy and Virginia.

Smolinsky Family Opens a Store in 1908

David Smolinsky, a Lithuanian immigrant, arrived in the United States in the 1880s. He worked on a farm in New York until he earned enough money to come to Kansas City, where three of his sisters had settled. As he began his family, Smolinsky farmed and operated grocery stores before buying land on Virginia Street and operating a dairy.

In 1908, Smolinsky built a commercial building on the corner of Brush Creek (then called Gillham) and Virginia. There were three apartments on the second floor and three storerooms on the first floor. When he had trouble renting two of the storefronts, he began selling his own farm produce in one of them. Soon he added a confectionary and a pharmacy, encouraging his son Phil to attend pharmacy school.

Smolinsky’s three sons, who would later change their last name to Small, worked in the business and ran it as their father aged. Parkview Pharmacy became known for advertising stunts, such as selling soft drinks from a car radiator, giving away automobiles at the baseball park (50,000 people showed up), and hawking ten-cent hot dogs and “buddyburgers.” One year, the company found itself with an oversupply of quarts of ice cream including strawberry, orange, pineapple, and caramel. The Smalls mixed them together and refroze them, accidentally creating what would become their signature “fruit salad flavor.” It became so popular they would later copyright it.

The original Parkview pharmacy prospered because of its location: it was on a street car stop and became hangout for people visiting Electric Park. The family leveraged the success, adding new stores until it owned 20 in Kansas City and Topeka by 1960.

Children From the Block Witness a Tragedy

A 1950 map of the block, when it was filled with homes, apartments and commercial buildings.

The tight-knit nature of the block is clear from a news story reported in 1909. Twelve children, mostly from this block, attended Rosie Smolinsky’s 13th birthday party in Swope Park. They spent the day at a carefree picnic and at the end of fun, chaperone Mrs. James Whitcraft of 4606 Tracy, mother of Rosie’s friend Enterprise, arranged for some of the children to go home by the Shaw taxi-bus. Rosie skipped across the street to inquire about the cost and, in sight of several hundred picnickers, was crushed under a heavy motor car and killed.

Rosie had attended the Bancroft School. Others from the surrounding neighborhood who were with her that day included: her sister Dora Smolinsky, 15; Helen Ward of 4617 Tracy; Marjorie and Litta Bough of 4610 Tracy; Melville Gates of 4608 Tracy; Mrs. L. True of 1311 Robert Gilliam Road (Brush Creek); and Paul Whitcraft of 4606 Tracy.

Apartment Buildings At Both Ends of the Block

A recent google photo of the Brush Creek apartments. The tallest building is the one designed by Nelle Peters.

Today, three apartment buildings remain along Brush Creek Boulevard. One of them, the Stanleigh Hall Apartments at 1301 Brush Creek, was designed by well-respected Kansas City architect Nelle Peters. Three apartments at the south end of the block along Virginia are no longer standing.

The slideshow below shows the rest of the buildings on the block as they looked in 1940.

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 at local bookstores and on 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. 


Leave a Comment