William Volker & Co., picture frames and window shades, Board of Pardons and Paroles, Board of Public Welfare, Volker Place Apartments
The namesake of the William Volker & Co. picture frame shop was much more than an average business owner; he was philanthropy personified. William Volker, a German immigrant with low funds and high ideals, settled in Kansas City in 1882. He grew his business—specializing in picture frames and window shades—and by the early 1900s was influencing the city from his position on the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Volker didn’t stop there: in the early 1910s he pioneered a Board of Public Welfare, targeting urban poverty with social programs. Though Volker’s project was a casualty of political disagreement before the end of the decade, this model would go on to influence broader welfare programs around the country. The old shop on 3rd Street has since been converted into apartments, but still bears the beloved benefactor’s name.