The names of Michael G., Ferdinand G., and Joseph J. Heim were names synonymous with the turn-of-the century development in Kansas City’s East Bottoms.
They were the sons of a St. Louis brewing family, educated in the public schools of East St. Louis, with business college training and they knew how to make German lager.
They came to Kansas City in 1884 and took over a brewery at 14th and Main. They bought a sugar refinery near Montgall and Guinotte and converted it to the Ferd Heim Brewing Company. At one time they also owned the Rochester and Imperial breweries and all were consolidated into one brewery in the East Bottoms. Additionally, like most beer barons they owned several saloons in prime locations in the city so they had significant real estate holdings.
The area next to the plant was the site of their Electric Park, Kansas City’s first amusement park, complete with a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, theater, beer garden, and electric lights, which were a novelty at the time. The band stand hosted many concerts, some led by John Phillip Sousa. It was built primarily to pipe their beer into the park for sale. Also on site was a fire station. A portion of the brewery and the fire station still stand and are occupied.
The designer of the brewery buildings was Charles S. Smith, who also designed the board of education building and former showcase library at 10th and Locust. He also designed the homes that Ferd and Mike built on Benton.
The homes are tall brick structures with gabled roofs and sandstone trim. They share a heart-shaped driveway that leads to a six stall carriage house topped with a cupola along the back of the properties. Joe’s house is a few houses north and overlooks Concourse Park.
To improve patronage of their park, the brothers built a street car line from the center of town. In addition to the street car, saloons and their real estate investments, they owned ice and coal companies in Kansas City and had extensive real estate holdings in Florida, where they spent the winter. The brewery had the first private telephone exchange in the city and the Heims created the first vertical, top-loading ice machine. They had the first 20hp steam engine in town and Ferd was the first person in the city to drive a car with a backseat.
Their fortunes faltered when Prohibition closed the brewery, motor cars replaced the streetcar lines and the Florida real estate boom collapsed.
Joe died in 1927 at the age of 66. Mike died in Florida in 1934 at the age of 68 and Ferd died in 1943 at the age of 80. Only Mike had male offspring and his son died before him. Mike adopted his grandson but when he died in 1946 at the age of 42, the Heim name in direct descent also died, leaving a colorful chapter in Kansas City history.
William and Mary List became the second owners of the home in the early 1920’s. They made some additions to the house, including a swimming pool.
William Mark List was born in Illinois in 1876. He was orphaned and never attended a single day of school, yet became an extremely successful businessman. His company, List and Clark, began by building for several railroad lines throughout the country. They built Blue River Road as part of Judge Harry Truman’s great road program for Jackson County and built numerous bridges throughout Kansas and Missouri.
The granddaughter of William and Mary was threatened with kidnapping so the family moved to Canada and donated the house to Assumption Catholic Church across the street from the house in December 1931. In April 1932, the List/Kilty family sold all their shares of the business to Charles Clark.
Nuns used the home as a convent from the 1930s into the early 1970s. Some taught at Assumption School and others served at the original St. Joseph Hospital. The wood in the pergola covering the back patio was taken from the hospital.
The house was then purchased by the John and Mary (Rellihan) Enright family in the early 1970’s. Her father was a tailor, who created the riding habits for the R. A. Long family, a lumber baron who built the home that became the Kansas City Museum and their summer home at Longview Farm. Loula Long Coombs was an internationally acclaimed equestrian. The museum is a few blocks from the Heim Manor.
Mary Rellihan Enright’s father turned the house and carriage house into apartments so John and Mary would have a source of income. There were two apartments on the second floor, one on the third floor and one in the carriage house.
Two other families owned the home and converted it back to a single family home prior to its purchase by the current owner in May 2010. Leslie has made her own improvements to the home and has plans to make additional ones in order to preserve the home for future generations.
Kansas City Times, November 10, 1976 by Frances S. Bush.
Passages Through Time: Stories about Kansas City and its Northeast Neighborhood by Dory DeAngelo. Published in 1992 by Tapestry Publications, 4500 Fairmount, Kansas City, MO 64111. ISBN: 0-96191224-1-9.