Creative visions see new opportunities in old properties.

Many new business owners start with a clean slate and build from the ground up. Others don’t need to give much thought to brick and mortar, and just look for enough room to work. In between, there are business owners who imagine new eras inside interesting, old spaces and the results give Martin City even more character. Here are just a few worthy of your attention that next time you pass through town.

The Martin Event Space

13440 Holmes Road, Martin City, Missouri

Yes, Martin City was once an actual city separate from Kansas City. You can trace our roots through annexation in the 1960s all the way back to the 19th century. Remnants of the year 1890 can still be seen today on the corner of 135th Street & Holmes Road where the Methodist Church in Martin City was originally dedicated. The building has a long and fascinating history that’s bounced between religious services and town meetings to bar room brawls and community theater performances.

The Methodist Church in Martin City, 1890

One of only a few local structures that survived the Ruskin Heights Tornado in 1957.

R. C. Van Noy, Martin City’s famous restaurant pioneer, converted the old church into a dining and entertainment venue with the help of his sons, MIke Van Noy of Jess & Jim’s Steakhouse fame and David Van Noy of RC’s Restaurant across the street. The property eventually passed to R.C.’s grandchildren in 2002.

The old church’s tall windows continue to inspire the building’s profile.

The modernized east side of The Martin today.

Since then, grandson Matt Moore has repurposed the building and transformed it into a one-of-a-kind event space known as The Martin. What started as a humble church 130 years ago now hosts weddings, party crowds, pop up entertainment and so much more under original wood arches directly in the heart of our neighborhood. Many see 13440 Holmes Road as a powerful metaphor for Martin City’s determination to reinvent itself over and over again.

Enduring wooden arches continue to be a main feature of The Martin.

The Midwest Recovery Centers Detox and Residential Campus

136th & Holmes Road, Martin City, Missouri

Who would have thought barbecue banquet halls could be transformed into a healthcare facility? That’s what Midwest Recovery Centers did with the old Jack Stack Barbecue property. Both businesses are Martin City originals, and when Jack Stack decided to move on, focusing more on renovations at its original location up the street, Midwest Recovery Centers popped up with a new vision for the two banquet buildings. 

MRC reinvented one building as a 10-bedroom residential hall for recovering addiction patients needing extended stays to get back on their feet. The other building now houses social activity space for patients and surrounding community groups.

One of ten patient bedrooms inside a former barbecue banquet hall in Martin City, Missouri

The MRC team envisioned a detox facility that feels like home to patients, immersing them in a warm and familiar environment. The old banquet halls, rich in Jack Stack nostalgia from the charming windows to the weather vanes, couldn’t have been more perfect.

Martin City, Missouri

Martin City, Missouri

Martin City, Missouri

Very little of the property’s exterior appearance was changed in the remodel. When you drive by, you really get an eyeful of old Martin City that takes on fresh appeal when you know important healthcare work is going on inside.

“The hometown character is very important to the atmosphere we’re trying to create,” says Kevin O’Grady, one of the company’s owners. “You’d be surprised how much the heritage appeals to our patients and adds to the comfortable feeling we have here.”

Gilded Lily

612 East 135th Street, Martin City, Missouri

You’ll rarely come across a retail boutique with more old prairie charm than Gilded Lily. Built in 1905, the house sits on one of the original lots owned by local liquor entrepreneur Edward Lowe Martin. Yep — that Edward Martin, the inspiration for our community’s name. The nearby barn built by the house’s first occupant is no longer there, but the house itself still stands as a sturdy 116-year old tribute to our earliest era.

Gilded Lily, Martin City, Missouri

The two story structure at 612 East 135th Street is rich in history you can feel, from the design to the materials carefully crafted back when every house was custom made. Gilded Lily owner Debbie Beachner couldn’t have chosen a better environment for the unique blend of antiques, fine china, playful figurines, nostalgic accents and refined culinary treats she offers customers. Beachner painstakingly arranges every display, from the basement, porch and kitchen to the upstairs bedrooms, drawing inspiration from the house’s long legacy.

“It all begins with the house,” says Beachner. “It’s really the foundation of the feeling at Gilded Lily, and it makes the right first impression.”

Gilded Lily, Martin City, Missouri

Gilded Lily, Martin City, Missouri

The Sharper Edge

610 East 135th Street, Martin City, Missouri

Much of the credit for the Gilded Lily house preservation goes to the property’s owner, Scott Rutledge. He’s sort of a repurposing superstar in Martin City. Rutledge also rescued the property next door from a toxic underground mess left behind by an old gas station, and turned it into his garden specialty business, The Sharper Edge, featuring premium concrete edging like no other.

The Sharper Edge property where the Mobil gas station once stood. The original Gilded Lily house can be seen to the right.

The building itself isn’t repurposed although it does resemble the original Mobil station from the outside. Rutledge built it from the ground up. But without his devotion to ensuring the clean up of the ground it sits on, who knows if this property in the heart of Martin City would have ever been successfully revived for any use at all.

Ultra-premium garden supplies attract growers from all over to The Sharper Edge.

The historic train route through Martin City passes right by the expansive fountain and statuary patio at The Sharper Edge.

Midwest Auto Park

75 W 135th Street, Martin City, Missouri

The property where Midwest Auto Park is located doesn’t seem to have much historical value, but you have to hand it to owner Sam Arnold for jumpstarting a new vision for an abandoned, unusual structure. Who could have guessed you could do anything here but serve burgers and fries? Take one look and you can tell that’s what the property was made for. It was originally designed as a fast food drive-in.

Midwest Auto Park, Martin City, Missouri

When the restaurant closed down, many wondered if anything else would ever move in. What kind of business could make use of the drive-in design? A similar restaurant seemed to be the lone possibility, but Sam Arnold saw a perfect fit for his premium used car lot. The extended roofing is just right for protecting vehicles from storm damage. It also keeps the hot sun off the cars in the summer and snow off during the winter. And the spaces where cars once pulled up to place fast food orders are ideal for displaying vehicle inventory.

“We’re working on some remodeling and painting to really bring the design of the whole place together,” says Arnold. “But we like how we’ve tailored the old drive-in for a new purpose.”

Midwest Auto Park, Martin City, Missouri

Midwest Auto Park, Martin City, Missouri

Of course, repurposing old structures is only part of the story of how Martin City is building itself up. Creative vision takes many forms in our neighborhood, from the extraordinary remodeling efforts that brought us businesses like Habitat ReStore, MC Crossfit and KJB Packaging Solutions, to the new construction that built up properties like the massive Fishtech campus, Eagles Gymnastics, the American Companies headquarters, Hangers Cleaners, Martin City Coffee and Ramsey’s Burgers. 

The fact is just about every Martin City business has a story, not just our famous restaurants or our other well-known companies like Volleyball Beach, Suburban Lawn and Garden, and Rosehill Gardens.

Look closely enough and you’ll find each story is a tale of determination, imagination and a passion for turning what is into what could be. That’s how Martin City businesses have always been defined, and it accounts for why so many visitors flock to our neighborhood to see the charm and ingenuity we put into it. So, the next time you stroll the streets of Martin City, look around and notice the details. Think about all the ambition and hard work that put us on the map over a century ago and made us the enduring community we are today.