Friday, September 27, 2013

1940: 1411 Wyandotte

Another in a series of posts based on the tax reassessment photos of 1940. Learn more here.

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In September of 1940, as German bombs fell on London, the Ryan Building was for sale or rent. The building had stood empty for two years. A sign at the corner of the third floor advertised its availability. Another, painted across the red bricks, paid homage to an old magazine title. And a third sign, above the streetside entrance, identified the enterprise that once produced the magazine: United Printing Company.

The Ryan Building had been named for its first owner, J.B. Ryan, president of the Kansas City Furniture & Bedding Manufacturing Company, which did business here just after the turn of the century. Later, United Printing published The Home Friend here until 1939, when the company moved to the Graphic Arts Building at 10th and Wyandotte. The Home Friend featured short fiction and articles about domestic life primarily for rural readers. 

After World War II the Ryan Building became headquarters of the Continental Display Advertising Company and remained so until it was demolished in the early 1970s. 

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Today few people remember Continental Display Advertising or United Printing or The Home Friend. But the Ryan Building still intrigues. Or part of it does – the part that remains as brick-and-stone urban ruins, perched on a hill behind the Mainstreet Theater and across the freeway from the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

The south exterior wall of the ruins blends into a limestone bluff that drops 30 feet to Truman Road ...

In another 1940 tax photo, the Ryan Building looms above the old Greenlease-O'Neill used-car lot on Baltimore, part of the neighborhood that was clear-cut for the downtown freeway loop ...

The top of Municipal Auditorium peeked over the roof of the Ryan Building.

 In 1975 the Ryan Building met the familiar fate of so many old downtown buildings – it became a parking lot. Today, Kansas City Power & Light owns the ruins. The small irony: No parking. 

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