by Ivan Foley
There’s a new look to a couple of buildings in the 300 block of Main Street in downtown Platte City.
Jim Craft, owner of the building at 325 Main, spent the weekend taking down metal siding that had covered his building for many years. And when the owner of the building next to Craft’s saw what was happening, he contacted Craft and asked him to take down the metal siding on his building as well, so Craft did.
Hidden behind that aluminum siding on Craft’s building was a sign for B and B Food Liner. Local historians tell The Landmark that B & B Food Liner was a grocery store run by Merle Bartlett, roughly from the 1940s into the 1960s.
The interesting “find” became the topic of Main Street buzz Saturday evening among local residents, including those who gathered that evening to attend a summer music concert on the lawn of the Platte County Courthouse across the street from Craft’s building.
Craft said he hasn’t done a lot of historical research on the building he owns and did not know the Food Liner sign was behind the siding until the metal siding came down.
“Some people have come by and talked to me about it, saying how they used to go into that store when they were kids,” he said.
Craft said the window panes that were once behind where that sign is now are gone. So for now at least, the sign will remain in place.
Craft has owned the building for 26 years. He purchased it from Ben and Fannie Kilgore in the early 1990’s. Fannie’s Restaurant occupied the lower portion of the building for a time while Ben and Fannie lived in a large apartment on the second floor.
The lower level has housed multiple restaurants since that time, including one owned by Craft and his wife Tina. The most recent
restaurant to occupy the lower level was Chaz 325, which has been out of business for a couple of years.
A small sign attached to the second floor of the exterior reads: K of P 1896. Some internet research indicates K of P stands for Knights of Pythias, a fraternal organization and secret society founded in Washington, D.C. in 1864. To become a member of the Pythagorean Brotherhood, certain rigorous tests were demanded and applied. Various web sources indicate the object of the organization was “the moral uplifting and purification of society.”
The second story space of downtown Platte City businesses was apparently a popular spot for lodges. The second story exterior of The Landmark Newspaper building, which was built in 1869, formerly had a sign attached indicating an Independent Order of Odd Fellows organization met there. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows began in 18th Century England, it was deemed odd to find people organized for the purpose of giving aid to those in need without recognition and pursuing projects for the benefits of all mankind.
Craft said he has the building listed for sale, and is offering owner financing. Asking price is $225,000.
“It has walk-in coolers and freezers in the back. It has a kitchen setup,” he said.
In addition, the apartment upstairs is a large space of about 1850 sq. ft. Craft said in the past he has rented out the apartment for about $900 per month.
“It used to have five apartments in it at one time. When Ben and Fannie owned it they converted it into one space,” Craft said.
The building to the east of Craft’s, located at 331 Main and most recently the home of the Platte City Flowers and Gifts, had no prominent old storefront signs on it when the blue metal siding was removed on Sunday. The 331 Main
building is now owned by Christopher Long, who recently purchased it.
Long told The Landmark in a phone interview this week that his plan is to turn the building into an events space. The upstairs will either be converted into a vacation rental or he will rent it out with the event space.
Long indicated it would likely be late in 2019 before the building, which he believes was constructed in the 1870s, would be ready as an events space. He is busy renovating other properties he owns, he said.
Local historians say the building now owned by Long was a meat market at about the same time the Craft building was a grocery store.
The flower shop recently moved from the building now owned by Long to a spot in the 200 block of Main.
City officials were happy to see the blue aluminum sheeting removed from the buildings.
Mayor Frank Offutt admired the improved look on Monday morning as he related the story of the B & B Food Liner grocery store run by Bartlett formerly being in the 325 Main location.
And DJ Gehrt, city administrator, was also pleased.
“This is another step toward improving the old downtown,” Gehrt said.
Craft said doing the work himself with some help from a couple of other guys saved him considerable money.
“I had a bid of $5,000 to take the metal off my building. I ended up spending about $220 in labor and a friend of mine owns a lift and he didn’t hit me up for very much,” he said.
Craft said the group spent about eight or 8.5 hours removing the sheeting from his building on Saturday and about seven hours doing the same to Long’s building on Sunday.