Kansas City, MO

History put the Vaughan's Diamond Building at "The Junction" in Kansas City, Missouri into the scrapbook of change

CJ Coombs

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Vaughan's Diamond Building at the "Junction."Pinterest.

As part of Kansas City's history and growth, what was called Vaughan’s Diamond Building was a prominent building from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. This building was located where 9th Street, Main Street, and Delaware Street met, and was referred to as The Junction.

Kansas City had essentially begun its growth around the Missouri River in the early 1800s and by the mid-1800s, developers were expanding to the south of the river.

In 1866, Major Samuel D. Vaughan, a real estate agent-investor, purchased lots from John W. Polk. He had also already made a purchase of other lots from Nathan Scarritt. It was an odd-shaped piece of property that was both narrow and almost triangular because of the way 9th, Main, and Delaware Streets came together at a point. This point became known as the Junction.

Famous architect, Asa Beebe Cross, was retained by Vaughan to design a building. Cross was from New Jersey and he studied architecture in Philadelphia and St. Louis. He had already lived in Kansas City for nearly a decade. He designed Vaughan’s Diamond Building. It's too bad there are only a few of his designed buildings that exist.

Cross created an office building four stories high. It cost $30,000 to build. Photographs of the building show a Mansard Roof, French-style (Second Empire), which has a roof with two slopes on all four sides; the lower slope is more vertical and steeper than the upper slope, which is almost horizontal. (Source.)

This building stood out from others with its height and style. Early tenants included Vaughan's real estate company, Kansas City Medical College, Kansas City Business College, and Security Life Insurance Company. Because of financial setbacks, Vaughan lost the building in 1872. It was purchased by Howard Holder for $31,790 who sold it in 1883 to The Kansas City Times for $85,000.

In 1886, the newspaper sold the building plus another one it built for offices to a real estate investor from Boston, Nathaniel Thayer. The selling price was $300,000. In the same year, the Diamond Building housed First National Bank. The famous Junction was pretty busy by 1890.

A cable line on 9th Street, which connected with the West Bottoms area, ran right by the Diamond Building....East of 9th was a steep hill, and when a cable car started its descent, a man employed by the Metropolitan Cable Line as a flagman would shout, 'Clear the tracks!' or 'Wide awake!' to alert pedestrians and horse-drawn vehicles. (Source.)

In 1911, Williams Realty Company bought Vaughan’s Diamond Building, and in 1915, the building was torn down for the construction of the West Gate Hotel.

In 1939, the hotel was sold to Ben Weinberg. It was remodeled including a name change to Hotel Kay in 1940. Five years later, it was sold to Milton Meizel for $145,000. In less than a year, the building was sold to Julius Firk from Chicago. The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority of Kansas City purchased the building from Firk for $420,000.

In 1954, the hotel was torn down and the streets were straightened. What stands where the Diamond Building used to be is the Muse of the Missouri fountain, Ten Main Center, and Commerce Tower.

The Muse of Missouri Fountain, also known as the David Woods Kemper Memorial, was dedicated in 1963. It was a gift from his parents, Mr. and Mrs. James Kemper, to the city honoring their son, who was killed in Italy during World War II.

It's a little on the sad side that old buildings of architectural status are torn down instead of being restored and renovated. The architectural history of Kansas City is interesting and contagious.

Thank you for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author; 30 years of legal secretarial experience; BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. Thinker, giver, and lover of life. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, truth, non-fiction, reading, history, and travel.

Kansas City, MO
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