Katz Drug Company was founded in 1914 by newspaper and fruit stand owners Mike and Issac Katz. The first two stores were located in Kansas City and over 57 years the business would branch out to 65 stores in five states. The store at Main and Westport was built in 1934; it was the first outside of the central business district and the first to feature the designs of Clarence Kivett who would become chief architect of the chain. In 1961, Kivett, Myers & McCallum were tasked with designing the company’s largest location, Springfield Store #46 (Katz City). Both locations reflect the fashionable styles of the period in which they were built; the Main and Westport store incorporating both Art Deco and Art Moderne styles and Katz City featuring the avant-garde Googie style popular in the 1960s. Vacancy was not an issue at these buildings until the past decade. Springfield Store #46 was occupied by CVS until the chain closed the store in April of 2019. The building is now advertised for lease and there are concerns that it will be demolished or inappropriately developed. The Springfield Landmarks Board recently voted unanimously to nominate Katz City a city historic site, but the nomination was denied by the Springfield City Council due to lack of comments from the owner even though Springfield city ordinance does not require owner approval for designation as a historic site. While the Main and Westport store in Kansas City has had various tenants over the years, the most recent owner, Redeemer Fellowship, purchased the building at auction. The Church first utilized the parking lot, but then expanded their campus into the space. Most recently the building was leased to a collective of artists who activated the space with their studios, public art and art events. After seven years the church has made the decision to sell the property and vacate the artists, preparing the building for redevelopment as it is on the proposed streetcar extension, now a highly sought-after corridor by real estate developers. Nominators of both these properties hope that by including them on the Places in Peril list will bring them to the attention of preservation-friendly buyers who would bring the buildings back to their original unique and iconic glory instead of altering their historic appearances or demolishing them for new construction, and to bring attention to the rapidly dwindling stock of work by the local Modern architects, Kivett & Myers.
One thought on “Katz Drugstores”