Kansas City, MO

Historic Crane Company Building in Kansas City: a piece of R.T. Crane's legacy

CJ Coombs
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Photo byBartokie, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The historic Crane Company Building is also known as the Jacobs Warehouse Company. It's located at 1105-1107 Hickory Street in Kansas City, Missouri (Jackson County). This building has been used for commercial storage in the past.

The architectural style is Late 19th and Early 20th Century American Movements: Commercial Style. The foundation is stone and the walls are brick. The significance of this building is its association with commerce. The architect was Louis S. Curtiss. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 18, 2018.

This six-story building is located in the historic West Bottoms industrial district. It was built in 1904-1905. The spaces inside the building were for warehouse use.

After Union Depot opened in the West Bottoms in 1878, this played into the growth of the commercial and industrial development in Kansas City. With a rail center in the West Bottoms, this presented a perfect location for distribution businesses like Crane Company.

When Crane Co. of Chicago came to the area in 1887, it was located on West 12th Street. The Crane Company Building was built as a warehouse to promote the growth of the company.

In 1905, the company served as a chief warehouse and processing facility for industrial-grade plumbing equipment and supplies which were used in the construction of key municipal water treatment facilities and power plants across the Midwest and Southwest United States. The warehouse also shipped products via rail and supplied valves and fittings for the rail industry which continued to grow.

One of Crane Company's major clients was the Santa Fe Railway Company. Later on, it would be helping the airline industry.

The Crane Company remained in the building until 1951, which was the same year that Crane Company sold their buildings to Jacobs Warehouse Company.

The building

R. T. Crane, after learning foundry work in New York and being unemployed in 1854, went to Chicago hoping to open his own business with his uncle, Martin Ryerson, of Ryerson Lumber. Crane opened a small brass shop near his lumber yard. When Crane's prospects improved, he sent for his brother, Charles S. Crane, to join the business in 1855. They established R.T. Crane and Brother Co.

Their business was a little slow but really picked up after the Civil War because they started receiving government contracts for brass parts. In 1865, the business was incorporated changing the name to Great Northern Manufacturing Company.

In 1872, the company's name changed again to Crane Bros. Manufacturing, and in 1890, it changed its name for the last time to Crane Co.

In 1884, due to a large unpaid account, a plumbing firm in Omaha, Nebraska turned the management of the store over to R. T. Crane. In 1886, Crane Co. took possession of the company which represented a branch location outside of Chicago. It was so successful, that another branch was opened in Los Angeles, California. The third branch opened in Kansas City.

Crane Co. was very successful in Kansas City. By 1900, it had outgrown its building which was later demolished in 2005. While their new building was being constructed in late 1902, construction was delayed somewhat after the 1903 flood.

The flooding was so severe that when the water receded, rail cars and engines were turned on their sides and the track was dislodged and twisted. Buildings located from the river front to 13th Street, reported water damage that hit the bottom of their second story windows. (Source.)

The exact date of when construction picked up again is estimated due to the ongoing flood recovery, but a publication known as The Valve World indicated the building was completed by January 1905.

As the automotive industry grew, the Crane Co. started using delivery trucks by the 1930s for its local orders.

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R. T. Crane

Richard Teller Crane was born in 1832 in New Jersey. Throughout his life, he was known as R.T. Crane. His Uncle Martin Ryerson of Chicago was his mother's brother.

Martin Ryerson continued to help Crane in the beginning years as he was building his business. By 1871, R. T.'s brother, Charles, retired from the business which left R. T. to take care of it all.

While R. T. wasn't schooled, he had apprentice positions where he learned about the pipe, valve, and fitting business. He put a lot of faith into trade school education. In 1892, he was a founder of the Chicago Manual Training School which was later renamed the R. T. Crane Manual Training School.

On January 9, 1912, R. T. Crane died after having the flu for three days. He was 79. His son, Charles S. Crane, took over the business. When he was appointed as Minister to China in 1909, R.T. Crane, Jr. took over. Because of the ongoing success of the business, in 1936, the company started trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

R.T. Crane, Jr. was the Chief Executive Officer of Crane Company from 1914 to 1931 when he died at age 58.

The legacy left by R. T. Crane is remarkable. In 2005, Crane Company, still going strong, celebrated its 150th anniversary. Also interesting, actor and comedian, Chevy Chase, is R.T. Crane's great-great-grandson.

Thanks for reading.


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Multi-genre writer and author/publisher with a BA in Eng Journalism/Creative Writing. I worked in law firms for 30+ years and retired early to pursue writing. I was born into the Air Force, so you could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, research, history, true crime, reading, art, and travel.

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