Missouri Pacific Building

Slightly outside of the heart of downtown and not really near any major attraction, the Missoui Pacific Building recently underwent a massive renovation. I’m not happy that what was originally intended to be another condo tower was downgraded into a hideous parking garage, fronting the major north-south axis of downtown; but nonetheless, I am glad that the building was renovated, and if it took the parking garage being built to get it done, then so be it. The parking garage can be replaced with a more elegant structure in the future.

Interestingly, it seems the Missouri Pacific Railroad was once headquartered in one of the buildings demolished for the Gateway Mall.

Note that the builders didn’t sheath the inside wall of the skyscraper; it seems that in the optimistic days of the turn of the century, people were certain that wall would one day be obscured by a skyscraper of similar height.

If only their optimism had come to fruition, we would have possessed a wonderful block of Art-Deco buildings fronting the civic plaza.

I have to admit that the new windows really make the building look great, even if they’re not 100% historically accurate.

The Art-Deco detailing, above on the rampart of the building, and below, in the stunning entrance lobby, are what make this building stand out.

I particularly enjoy how the stone switches to gray on the first floor, highlighting the entrance.

The giant C-scrolls, rife with careful detailing, are a stark contrast to the clean lines of the terracotta white building rising above them.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Matt says:

    Yes, this building is totally isolated from attractions. It's two WHOLE blocks from City Hall, and that shameful, unattractive Central Library is across the street.I kid, Chris. 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    3 blocks from the Peabody Opera House and 3 1/2 from Scottrade.

  3. Chris says:

    I agree with both of you that logically it is a great location, until you're down around there and it's completely dead. Remember, in modern day America if you have to walk more than a block from your car to your destination, it's considered a long distance. Sad but true. Look at shopping malls: part of the reason they're failing is people don't want to have to walk so far from their car to the stores.

  4. Nice posting of Missouri Pacific Building..

  5. Anonymous says:

    For what its worth, I worked in the Missouri Pacific Railroad Building from Jan. 1987 until Aug. of 2004 when everything was transfered to Omaha, Ne. The Lobby of the Mo-Pac bldg. was something to see after the Company had the celling cleaned and restored to its original wonder. I haven't been back there since I was transfered to Omaha, but I somethimes wonder what they ever did to that Lobby.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I used to take care of the old air conditioning units at Mo Pac years ago, and I was told by an "Old Timer" that…….The reason the east wall of the building is another color, was that it was to be covered up by an identical building on that side. Due to a severe floods out west in the late 20's or early 30's, caused Missouri Pacific to use money set aside for the new building to be used to rebuild bridges.

  7. Chris says:

    That makes sense, thanks for sharing.

  8. Richard A. Berry says:

    I worked in the old Missouri Pacific building in 1962 after my freshmen year of college. I was on the 10 floor, “Car Department “, was there when the ” Carson-Union, May-Stern Building burned down across the street on 12th Street. I watched the fire from one of the roofs. We had a Blue printing Machine in the first basement level. I would ride the elevators down to the Lobby, walk across the Lobby to a single door and down the stairs to get blue prints made. There were three sub- basements, with storage of drawings and records of other old railroads. I was told that the buildings corner at 11th and Pine Street floats on a concrete pad and that three are large pumps which run around the clock to keep the basements from flooding. I was told that the pumps failed on one occasion and water was running out onto the street.

    1. Jayne says:

      I was an intern from ‘78 thru ‘81 during the summers while in college. Worked in the car department.

    2. Noah Smith says:

      So I have been in the basement of that building recently and I have heard rumors that the basement was where train cars were brought to work on. Does anyone know if there is any truth to that?

      1. cnaffziger says:

        Highly unlikely. While there was a train tunnel underneath !2th Street, it terminated at Washington Avenue. There would have been no way for railcars to have accessed the MoPac building. There certainly would have been other repair facilities located adjacent to railyards elsewhere in the city, and no need to bring them deep into a commercial center.

  9. J. Charles Binder says:

    I had read somewhere that the Depression and hard times caused two major changes in the MoPac’s design. Originally planned to be taller, ten floors were eliminated from construction. And the flat eastern wall would have had a similar treatment as the western wall with more projections of elements to make the building symmetrical around its north-south axis.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      I could totally believe that. Compositionally, the building ends rather abruptly, and if we look to a similar skyscraper of the era, the Chase Park Plaza tower, we could easily envision a taller design for the Missouri Pacific.

  10. BAR says:

    This article cannot possibly be accurate since I worked in the building during the summer of 1988, and to my knowledge it still stands repurposed. Your demo must be another building.

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