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Do You Remember This House at 31st & Troost? PDF  | Print |

By James P. McGilley, ad for McGilley Memorial Chapels, Kansas City Star, March 5, 1973

31st & Troost

My good friend, Mike O’Dowd, brought me this picture of the home at 31st and Troost where his mother lived from the time she was a little girl until she married. Mike is associated with me as a counselor for our McIlley Funeral Trust Plan.

I remember this charming old Victorian mansion so well. There were a number like it in the area of 31st and Troost when I came her in 1904—but this one was probably the largest and most elaborate.

To give you an idea of its size, take a look at those five chimneys—that meant there were five fireplaces!

The house was built back in 1880 by J. F.Richards who was the founder of Richards and Conover Hardware Company. Richards lived in the house until 1906 when he sold it to Joseph Wirthman.

Wirthman and his wife had no children of their own, and they persuaded Mrs. Wirthman’s little sister, Laura, to come and live with them. Laura, of course, is Mike O’Dowd’s mother.

It was commonplace back in those days for large families to loan a “little angel” to aunts and uncles who had no children.

Usually these loans were intended just for the summer, but you know how summer has a way of fading into fall; and thus it was that Laura Miler O’Dowd stayed on with the Wirthmans until she was married.

Some folks wondered why in the world Joe Wirthman bought this old mansion! But Joe knew . . . and, in my next story, I’ll tell you why. That will be March 19, so mark your calendar.




Why Joe Wirthman Bought The House at 31st & Troost

By James P. McGilley, ad for McGilley Memorial Chapels, Kansas City Star, March 19, 1973

Do you remember a couple of weeks ago I had a picture of the old mansion at 31st and Troost that Joe Wirthman bought form J.F. Richards in 1906? I mentioned that some folks at the time wondered why he wanted such a big house.

Well, this old drawing which Wirthman had made before he bought the house indicated that he knew exactly what he was going to do with it!

He foresaw that, someday, 31st and Troost would be a commercial area and he envisioned moving his drug store form 19th and Troost and locating it in his front yard.

Of course, you know that the commercial value of 31st and Troost developed way beyond Wirth;ma’s original dream. It became the number one suburban shopping center in Kansas City. Street cars went by 31st and Troost almost as frequently as planes land today at O’Hare.

Wirthman’s proposed Corner Drug Store blossomed into the five-story Wirthman building, with the famous Isis Cafeteria in the basement.

On, the memories I have of the Isis!

Michael O’Dowd had a 14-piece band playing dinner music there, and Mike has told me that some folks actually bought flaks with them to the Isis . . . and spiked the near beer. Can you imagine that! !

It’s no wonder they call those days the “Roaring Twenties.“

Oh, 31st and Troost was something in the twenties! It was the center of the world—and Joe Wirthman was in the center of the center.

Planning, ahead was the secret of his success. It’s never too late to start on new plan. There’s still time to become the man you might have been!