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9th Street, West from McGee
9th Street, West from McGee
Title9th Street, West from McGee
DescriptionPostcard of 9th Sreet, West from McGee
Historical ArticleThe steep slopes of Ninth Street looking west from McGee are pictured on an early hand-colored post card, published by Fred Harvey. A street car crosses the intersection on Grand Avenue.

Flags fly from the tops of the U.S. Postoffice and the Scarritt building at the right side of the card, as well as from the Grand Avenue Temple building (and church), at the left side.

In the background, the much older six-story red brick building with the pointed turret is the Keith & Perry Building. It was erected in 1887 by Richard H. Keith and John Perry, who made their fortune in coal. It was the design of architects Holt-Price & Barnes. The offices of the coal company were on the sixth floor.

Keith, a former Lexington, Mo., confederate soldier, became a resident of Kansas City in 1871 and invested his entire capital of $40 in the establishment of a little coal yard on Bluff Street. As Carrie Whitney wrote in her history: Kansas City then had but little industrial or commercial importance and handled not more than 30 or 40 carloads of coal a day. Mr. Keith lived to witness the growth of the city and its business development until between 350 or 400 carloads of coal were handled daily.

He eventually became one of the most prominent and successful retail coal dealers of the country as the president of the Central Coal & Coke Co. Constantly watchful for opportunities to expand, he opened his first mine at Godfrey, Bourbon County, Kentucky, in 1873, and later opened other mines at Rich Hill and in the Bonanza district of Arkansas. By 1909 his businesses were producing 4 million tons annually. When Colonel Keith opened his little coal yard on Bluff Street he employed but two or three men and ere his death the employees of the Central Coal & Coke Co. numbered about 10,000, mining coal in Kansas, Missouri, Indian Territory, Arkansas and Wyoming.

Charles S. Keith, a son, became a member of the firm in 1891, first serving as a bookkeeper, and by 1907 president and general manager of what was then the largest coal and lumber enterprise of the southwest.

John Perry came to Kansas City from England in 1869 to seek his fortune. He went into the coal business with Keith and shared in the thriving business. His wife and four children, returning to England on a trip in 1898, were drowned when the French liner Bourgoyne went down at sea. After the tragedy, Perry returned to England to live, but visited here from time to time.

The Keith & Perry Building (as pictured) was occupied by doctors, lawyers, coal and lumber dealers as well as the Central Coal & Coke Co. One occupant was Dr. Arthur Hyde, defendant in the long, drawn-out trials in the Thomas Swope murder case.

A barber shop in the basement of the building, with an entrance on the steep Ninth Street side, was well known for a wall cupboard of shaving mugs, each with its owner's name done in ornate gold lettering.

The site is now occupied by the Columbia Union National Bank and Trust Company Building.

Kansas City Times
April 13, 1979

AuthorRay, Mrs. Sam (Mildred)
Item TypePostcard
CollectionMrs. Sam Ray Postcard Collection (SC58)
See finding aid: http://localhistory.kclibrary.org/u?/Local,36981
Local Subject9th Street
Digital FormatJPEG
RepositoryMissouri Valley Special Collections, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri
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