Michael Bushnell

This week, we feature a rare advertising postcard showing the old Convention Hall, which was destroyed by fire in early April 1900 — just 90 days prior to the Democratic National Convention of that same year.

After a brief debate following the disastrous fire, city leaders decided to notify the Democrats that their convention could indeed take place in a newly constructed Convention Hall. As Kansas City’s most ambitious construction project to date, trade unions were all notified and worked together to insure the new hall would be completed by the time convention festivities were due to start on July Fourth. True to their word, the new Convention Hall was completed in time for the Democrats. Published news stories of the day tell of workmen hastily finishing up small jobs inside the hall while delegates poured through the front doors.

 During that 1900 Democrat Convention, William Jennings Bryan was nominated as the Democrats’ choice for the presidential election later that year. In 1928, the Republicans held their convention there and nominated Herbert Hoover as their presidential hopeful.

Back of Postcard

 During the flood of 1903, 1,500 people were temporarily fed and quartered at Convention Hall. All that summer, relief committees used the hall as headquarters, distributing household goods and clothing.

 The cost of the new building, including all of the furnishings, was right at $500,000. Although the previous building had wooden floors and wooden balcony supports, the new hall had floors of concrete, supports of steel and a roof of tile. Convention Hall was demolished when Municipal Auditorium was completed in 1935, a block south at 13th and Wyandotte. The Auditorium garage and Barney Allis Plaza now occupy the site of the former Convention Hall.

 On the back of the card is a lithograph of a beautiful woman, clad in Victorian-era clothing, advertising the Union Bank Note Company of Kansas City at 600 Delaware St., manufacturers of bank and mercantile stationery. The officers of the company are listed as Franklin D.Crabbs, President and Treas., Theodore Bishop, Vice President, and Alfred T. Conwell, Secretary.