What is the oldest building in Kansas City?
The identity of the oldest building in Kansas City has been hotly debated. Neither one of the prime candidates was originally in Kansas City but in Westport, a separate town until 1897. Both buildings were constructed within a few months of each other in 1850.
The structure generally known as the “Albert G. Boone Store,” or Boone’s Trading Post, was built at what is now the northwest corner of Westport Road and Pennsylvania. Albert Boone was the grandson of Daniel Boone and, although evidence suggests that he was not the builder of the store, his name remained attached to the property, built to outfit travelers departing on the Santa Fe and Oregon trails.
After several intervening owners, brothers John and Jake Wiedenmann purchased the property in 1904 for their grocery store. When prohibition ended in 1933, the building housed a tavern, and in 1936 it was operating as the Westport Inn. In 1946 Irish-born Randal Kelly came to Kansas City and became a co-owner of the tavern in 1947 with Art Brock, but the Wiedenmann family retained ownership of the building until at least the 1980s. Although officially called Westport Inn, “Randal's witty sense of humor, unpretentious attitude and giving hand won him great popularity and it wasn't long before people were calling the place Kelly's.” When Art Brock died in 1977, the name of the bar officially became Kelly’s Westport Inn.
The other likely contender for the oldest building title is the Chouteau-Bridger Building, immediately adjacent to Kelly’s at 504 Westport Road. Cyprien Chouteau, along with two others, built this as a mercantile store. Later in 1866, Chouteau sold the building to the famous mountain man Jim Bridger, and it became known as the Bridger Building.
For more information search the Local History Index.
Librarian Mary Beveridge
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