Kansas City, MO

Kansas City's downtown Commerce Tower has its place in history starting with a large banking company in the early 1900s

CJ Coombs

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Commerce Tower, Kansas City, Missouri.SakuraAvalon86 at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Commerce Tower is a 30-story skyscraper in Kansas City, Missouri located at 911 Main Street. The building was constructed in 1965. It's also been known as the National Bank of Commerce Building and the Commerce Trust Company Building. The Commerce Tower was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 11, 2014.

Brief history

The National Bank of Commerce Building on 922-924 Walnut Street, Kansas City, Missouri was designed by architect Jarvis Hunt and constructed in 1907-1908.

The architectural design then reflected the Beaux-Arts style. The Kansas City Title and Trust Company Building built in 1922 was to the east of the building. The Commerce Bank Building built in 1984-1986 was to the south. There was a vacant lot to the north and a parking garage to the west.

The National Bank of Commerce was a high-ranking financial institution and part of its success was attributed to the continued growth of Kansas City. In 1906, the Commerce Trust Company was organized with its first president, William Thornton Kemper, Sr. The Kemper family continues to play a role in this banking company.

In 1908, the National Bank of Commerce and the Commerce Trust Company were operating out of the same location at 10th and Walnut. In 1912, the Southwest National Bank was consolidated with the National Bank of Commerce changing the name to Southwest National Bank of Commerce.

In 1917, the National Bank of Commerce purchased Commerce Trust Company, but they operated separately. Two years later, “Southwest” was removed from the company name. Through 1921, the Commerce Trust Company had operated separately from the National Bank of Commerce and in that year, the two entities merged. The name was changed to Commerce Trust Company.

In the 1920s, Commerce began to build smaller banks throughout communities. It was the largest bank in Kansas City. As an investor, the company was involved with a remodeling project associated with the 10th and Walnut building and the construction of the Commerce Tower Office Building was built in 1965. It was one of the tallest commercial buildings in Missouri.

In 1955, James Kemper, Jr. was elected president. He was only 34 years old. In 1966, the company established Commerce Bancshares, Inc. By the early 1980s, it acquired other banks. Soon, Commerce Bank, N.A. was the largest bank in Missouri.

The first ATM for Commerce was installed in Springfield, Missouri in 1979. The National Bank of Commerce and Commerce Bank were linked together by a skywalk built in 1980.

In 1986, Commerce Bank completed its construction of a new bank building at 1000 Walnut. Four years later, its interest in the Commerce Tower was sold.

Commerce Trust Building

This building contains 15 stories. It was built in 1907. The Kansas City Journal used to be located at this site. In 1965, Commerce built the adjoining Commerce Tower and stayed in its own building. In 2001, the Commerce Trust Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2015, Commerce celebrated 150 years of its history in the banking industry.

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Commerce Bank operates from 1000 Walnut, one of two central hubs for the Missouri-based bank.Commerce Bank, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

As of June 2022, the Federal Reserve Bank reported Commerce Bank as being the 62nd largest commercial bank in the United States.

The Commerce Tower today

The headquarters for Commerce Bank was moved to 1000 Walnut in 1985. Today, Commerce Tower is Commerce Tower Apartments supporting Miesian-style architecture.

Today, Commerce Tower provides some 350 residential units for Kansas City residents and it contains commercial space for multiple tenants including classrooms for Park University and daycare space in the lower level. Located on the new streetcar line, it retains its vibrant presence in downtown Kansas City. (Source.)

Inside the boundaries of East 9th, Walnut, East 10th, and Main Streets is the Commerce Trust Historic District which was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 9, 2015.

Thanks for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO
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