Named for two of Kansas City, Mo.’s most influential individuals and families, the Armour-Volker building is situated in the heart of the wholesale (or garment) district. As a noted philanthropist, William Volker advocated social welfare and garnered the nickname “Mr. Anonymous” due to his habit of donating large sums of money to organizations – you guessed it – anonymously. Born in Germany, then relocating to Chicago and finally settling in our city, Volker developed countless institutions, organizations, and businesses. Not only did Volker design and implement the “first modern welfare department in the United States” (the Kansas City Board of Public Welfare), he also had a major hand in creating a research hospital, and the University of Kansas City (now University of Missouri at Kansas City [UMKC] located on Volker Road). He also funded the purchase of the land for building the Liberty Memorial (a towering tribute to veterans which houses the National WWI Museum on 26th Street).
The Armour name refers to the distinguished wealthy family who greatly impacted Kansas City for generations. Charles Watson Armour, Vice President of the Armour Packing Company (creators of a multi-million dollar meat packing industry in Kansas City) and William Volker were both donors to the local Wheatley-Provident hospital, a facility aimed especially at treating African-Americans in an era of segregation and disparity in medical care.
Plotsky Investment Company—a successful business established by the Plotsky brothers, Herbert, Robert and Jack—were mainstay tenants at the Armour-Volker at 306-308 W. 8th St. Father of the Plotsky gang, Louis, was a savvy businessman himself, and founded the local Kansas City Boys Wear Manufacturing Co. On the fifth floor of the Armour-Volker building you could find the Talon Inc. Zipper Manufacturing Co. The zipper company, founded in 1893, was the largest zipper supplier in the world. Finding a booming industry in the wholesale/garment district of Kansas City, Talon set up their regional facility in the Armour-Volker building in 1956.
Converted to the SoHo Lofts Condominiums in 1987, the Armour-Volker building has deep roots in this historic district.