Martin City’s Past
Martin City was full of activity in the roaring 20s! We had a train depot, a hotel, a blacksmith shop, and a general store to serve local residents. A bank was built in 1911 and by 1926, bank assets were over $59,000. There were around 250 people living in Martin City in 1926, with 80 students and two teachers working in the local school.
During Prohibition, one resident recalled, there was a drugstore in Martin City where customers could “get a little nip” at a window in the back of the store. The dry goods store had a dance hall upstairs where children and adults could roller-skate, and men organized a gun club and a basketball team.
Like many banking services, business declined during the Depression and the Martin City bank closed its doors in 1933.
The Methodist Church in Martin City was organized in 1888 and a church building was dedicated in 1890 on land donated by Edward Martin, the local liquor king, and inspiration behind our community’s name. In 1929, the church basement was completed and used as a community gathering place for town meetings.
The building went on to survive the Ruskin Heights Tornado that blew Martin City apart in 1957. Thirty people survived during a church supper in the basement as the sanctuary above was blowing away.
When the sky cleared, the church was still standing, offering inspiration to rebuild when others may have been tempted to pack up and move on. The building was repaired after the tornado damaged it, and the congregation met at the Martin City school while repairs were made. The church group remained until 1975, and then partnered with another congregation to build Red Bridge United Methodist Church at 117th and Holmes Road. The building was vacant for the next few years until the late 1970s, when Martin City restaurant pioneer R.C. Van Noy moved in.
“Turning an old church into a restaurant and bar was a very R.C. thing to do,” says Mike Van Noy, R.C.’s son and longtime owner of Jess & Jim’s Steakhouse, “My dad already had several other restaurants going in Martin City but saw new possibilities in that old building.” See what the building has become today.
Before 1910, students from the Martin City area attended Mount Pleasant school, located at 128th and Wornall Road. In 1910, Martin City built its own school. The Martin City School grew to include 25 classrooms and 280 students. In 1999 a cafeteria, gymnasium and more classrooms were added to accommodate grades six through eight.
Martin City was annexed into the Kansas City, Missouri city limits in 1963 along with much of south Jackson County.
Martin City Today
District boundaries have expanded to include 300+ acres with 80+ businesses now in the Martin City Community Improvement District. Martin City schools are part of the Grandview School District and now offer classes for K-8th grade students.
Future of Martin City
Martin City future improvement plans include landscaping many parts of the district, adding more sidewalks, parking and other public amenities. New signage when entering the district and bike lanes are in the works and trails will eventually wind through the area as part of the greater KCMO Metro Trails Plan.
VIEW MARTIN CITY’S 2020 AREA PLAN