National Cloak and Suit Company

This week’s historic postcard column spotlights one of Historic Northeast’s most iconic and recognizable buildings. Located at 5401 Independence Avenue, The National Cloak and Suit building was built in 1919 at a cost of $2.5 million.

This Art Deco postcard was published by Hall Bros. in the early 1920s, showing the company’s 12-story reinforced concrete building, as well as a small sandwich shop located across Hardesty to the west.

The description on the back of the card reads: “Two thousand people are employed in this building, which also contains a thoroughly modern hospital, cafeteria, recreation room, ball grounds, tennis courts, etc.” The card has never been mailed.

National Cloak and Suit was founded around 1888, and in 1910, was reorganized as the National Bellas Hess Co. In 1927 the company relocated to Armor Road in North Kansas City.

At one time, Bellas Hess was one of the top five mail order companies in the country, generating sales of more than $250 million a year through the mailing of 25 million catalogs.

During the late 1970s, however, the company fell into bankruptcy. Former employees attribute the company’s demise to losing focus on the mail order business in favor of discount retail stores and supermarkets.

Between 1940 and 1943, 15 additional buildings were built on the 18-acre, triangular site bordered by the railroad on the south, Independence Avenue on the north and Hardesty Avenue on the west. During and after WWII, the Hardesty complex was used as a quartermaster’s depot and included a unit that processed personal effects of military personnel killed in action. In 1948, the Army established the Kansas City Records Center in the building, consolidating five record centers located in other cities into the Hardesty location.

The federal government operated the site through the early 1980s until the building shown on the postcard was purchased by Megaspace Inc., a self storage and warehousing company. In 2011 the site was purchased by Asian Americans for Equality out of New York City and the entire site was prepared for redevelopment as a mixed use facility that included residential space combined with small business incubator services and urban agricultural spaces. Those lofty plans, however, failed to materialize and a large portion of the site remains undeveloped.

Early in 2021, plans were announced by the Arnold Development Group to transition the storage building on the postcard into 352 residential units with retail space on the first floor.

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • Remember This?

    May 18th, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain Floating along and holding the soap, Snoopy’s in the bathtub providing good, clean fun. Avon Products, Inc. […]


    Livestock Exchange Building stands as a testament to once proud Stockyard operation

    May 18th, 2022
    by

    By Micheal Bushnell About two years after the opening of the Hannibal Bridge over the Missouri River in 1869, the […]


    Remember This?

    May 11th, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain Only “three apples high,” these little blue men have grown in popularity since their first appearance in […]


    Great Flood displaces 22,000

    May 11th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell This black and white photo postcard, published by the Southwest News Company of Kansas City, shows Union […]


    Remember This?

    May 4th, 2022
    by

    Dorri Partain Contributor Since its first issue in 1932, The Northeast News has been headquartered at several different addresses. Founding […]


    Old flower shop slated for newsroom as award-winning Northeast News transitions to non-profit business model

    May 4th, 2022
    by

    Michael BushnellPublisher Rose Marie Serrone opened her flower and gift shop in a single story Art Deco-style building in 1946 […]


    Remember This?

    April 27th, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle! Jelled desserts have come a long way since the 15th century, […]


    Mount Washington Park still a gem

    April 27th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell This postcard, published by the Webb-Freyschlag Mercantile Company, shows a peaceful view of Swan Lake in Mount […]


  • Let’s go see Kansas City!

    April 20th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell “See Kansas City and know what you’re seeing,” states the description on the back of this Curt […]


    Remember This? Ecology Flag

    April 20th, 2022
    by

    By Dori Partain Creation of the Ecology Flag, the official flag for Earth Day, was truly a grassroots effort. The […]


    Nathan Scarritt, Melrose Methodist Church keys to early Northeast development

    April 13th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell A far cry from its humble beginnings in 1887 as a tent, this week’s real photo postcard […]


    Remember this? Plaza Bunnies

    April 13th, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain Whether the photo is black and white or taken in today’s digital format, generations of Kansas City […]


    Private mailing cards a true work of art

    April 6th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell As a public communication medium, postcards made their debut at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Ill., in […]


    Remember This?

    April 6th, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain By today’s soft drink consumption standards, would a family size bottle only contain 24 ounces? As produced […]


    Camp Prairie Schooner – Still a destination for girls in Scouting

    March 30th, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell The description on the back of this real photo postcard describes Camp Prairie Schooner Girl Scout Camp […]


    Remember This?

    March 30th, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain The Old Maid rockets into space with this version of the popular card game aimed at the Baby […]


    Remember This?

    March 23rd, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain If you’re putting away your snow boots and getting your sneakers ready for spring, a pair of […]


    Colonnaded apartments a Kansas City icon

    March 23rd, 2022
    by

    By Michael Bushnell The Collinwood Apartments, located at 2501-2519 E. Linwood Blvd., were developed and built by William H. Collins […]


    Remember This?

    March 15th, 2022
    by

    By Dorri Partain Kansas City motorists had to keep change handy to cross two bridges that spanned the Missouri River […]


    The old and the new

    March 15th, 2022
    by

    This week’s historic postcard is a Chrome era Tetricolor postcard published by James Teterick of Kansas City, Mo. The written […]


  • Faces Of Northeast


  • Remember This?


  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.