3 ghost signs in Kansas City’s River Market explained

Picture of Askew Saddlery building

The Askew Saddlery Company building looking from 2nd + Delaware. | Photo by KCtoday

Table of Contents

Remember ghost signs? Think: old painted signs that give windows into history. We last visited the West Bottoms, but today, we’re diving into the River Market.

Richards & Conover

5th Street + Wyandotte Street

Picture of Richards & Conover building

Richards & Conover Lofts view from 4th and Wyandotte. | Photo by KCtoday

This hardware, iron, and steel manufacturing and distributing business began in Leavenworth in 1857 under Colonel John Conover and Colonel John F. Richards. After several decades of growth, the company consolidated multiple offices into the new 5th + Wyandotte building in 1903. They moved out in 1954, began experiencing difficulties in the 1990s, and ultimately closed the business in Dec. 1999. The building was added to the Historic Registry in 1998 and converted into lofts in the early 2000s.

Askew Saddlery Company

2nd Street + Delaware Street

Picture of Askew Saddlery building

The Askew Saddlery Company building looking from 2nd + Delaware. | Photo by KCtoday

Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Ohio native William Askew moved to KC in 1866 and “engaged in the saddlery, hardware, leather and hide business.” They were most known for the Askew Saddle. When the company started, it had six employees. By 1900, it had 135 factory workers + additional administrative positions. Askew sold mostly to cowboys driving their beef between KC and Chicago. The introduction of automobiles forced a business decline, and the company was bought out in 1928. The building on Delaware Street was transformed into residential units in 1994 along with Volker Place and Pacific House.

William Volker & Co.

3rd Street + Main Street

Picture of William Volker Co. building

William Volker Co. building looking from the City Market Park. | Photo by KCtoday

What started as a picture frame wholesale business quickly became a home furnishings empire thanks to some popular window shades. William Volker, a German native, moved to KC in 1882. He became known for his anonymous charitable activism that earned him the nickname “Mr. Anonymous.” After his death in 1947, the city dedicated a fountain to him, which is now on the south side of Brush Creek by Oak Street. The former Volker Boulevard was renamed to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. His former warehouse on 3rd Street is now loft space.


More from KCtoday