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3 ghost signs in Kansas City’s Crossroads explained

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Can you read those faded letters? Because we can’t.

Photo by KCtoday

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It’s spooky season once again, so we’re back with some ghost (sign) stories from Kansas City’s past.

What is a ghost sign? Think: faded, painted advertisements. Given Kansas City’s rich history, KC ghost signs are everywhere. Many of these stories are lost to time and weather, but here’s what we learned about three visible signs in the Crossroads.

Freight House

101 W. 22nd St., Kansas City, MO

KC_Freight House sign

We hope you came hungry.

Photo by KCtoday

All aboard the flavor train. This old warehouse is home to three award-winning restaurants: Lidia’s, Jack Stack Barbecue, and Grünaur. Editor Travis has eaten at each + never had a bad meal.

The building was constructed in 1887 to house goods unloaded from trains. This was before Union Station even existed. Like many old buildings downtown, it fell into disrepair until Wichita developer Dan Clothier renovated the space in 1995. Lidia’s opened in 1998, and while painted signs may be fading, historical markers remain.

Bunting-Stone Hardware

2012 Baltimore Ave., Kansas City, MO

Picture of faded Bunting-Stone Hardware sign

Just like the exterior signs, the building’s use has historic implications.

Photo by KCtoday

George Bunting was a traveling salesmen before settling in Kansas City in 1901, opening a hardware store. The company had two buildings, including this one in the Crossroads. This building served as a wholesale + shipping warehouse, according to an original letter.

Ultimately, the space was taken over in 1985 by Jim Leedy, a trailblazing artist + professor of sculpture at the Kansas City Art Institute. He founded the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, which provides professional resources and gallery space for artists. This staple of Crossroads art was one of the first in the district.

The Rieger Hotel

1922 Main St., Kansas City, MO

KC_Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange sign

We’re manifest(o)ing a comeback.

Photo by KCtoday

This hotel dates back to 1915, built by the J. Rieger & Co. family. The building is listed on the National Registry for Historic Places, and this mural was originally created to advertise the family whiskey. Even while the distilling company closed due to Prohibition, the hotel remained open.

A speakeasy (Manifesto) and the restaurant (Grill & Exchange) opened around the turn of the last decade — during which the mural was resurrected. The businesses closed in 2020 due to the pandemic, and the sign has yet again begun to fade. However, rooms are still available — as luxury Vrbo rentals.

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