Former Newspaper Printing Facility in Kansas City MO

Western Newspaper Union Building, Kansas City Missouri
Date added: May 05, 2024 Categories:
South or main facade (2006)

In 1901 the building at 304 W. 10th Street was constructed for the A. N. Kellogg Auxiliary Newspaper Company to house their printing operation that sold pre-printed auxiliary newspapers to over fifty-five (55) small town newspaper and quarto publishers in a three state area. The Kellogg firm occupied the building for only five years. In 1906 the Western Newspaper Union, owned by George Joslyn of Omaha, Nebraska, purchased the A.N. Kellogg Auxiliary Newspaper Company and acquired the building at 304 W 10th Street at the same time. Joslyn's Western Newspaper Union (WNU) purchase of Kellogg Auxiliary Newspaper Company, and subsequent mergers made thereafter, aided the Western Newspaper Union to become the largest auxiliary newspaper company in the country. WNU owned and operated printing plants and publication offices in thirty-two cities, including Kansas City, Missouri. Under George Joslyn's leadership, the Western Newspaper Union Company grew to over 12,000 newspapers across the United States.

The early development in the auxiliary or ready-print newspaper (also known as boiler-plated newspaper) industry in the United States began just before the Civil War c. 1860. Several small printing firms in the northern portion of the United States began following the work of Cassell, a London-based publisher (c.1857), who supplied approximately 150 newspapers with ready-printed sheets of national news and advertisement in England. The operation in England remained a small-scale process compared to the American adaptation in which the process was expanded to become the largest systematized news gathering and distribution method in the world. Ansel Nash Kellogg, a printer and publisher from Baraboo, Wisconsin, expanded the concept of ready-printed newspapers to become the recognized founder of the auxiliary newspaper industry in the United States.

Although several publishers and journalist were experimenting with the practice of ready-print news, A. N. Kellogg turned it into a lucrative industry in 1865 when he opened his ready-print company in Chicago, Illinois. At first, Kellogg's ready-print insides provided advertisements, stories, comics, and news of national interest while the local publisher, who purchased the ready-prints for what were often small-town and county publications, provided the news of local interest. In the beginning, all first sheets in the syndication process used by Kellogg's papers avoided political matters. However, by 1867, Kellogg had perfected his process and was able to provide reading matter on any political issues a publisher desired. This allowed local papers to express their opinionated views, be it social or political.

Once established in Chicago, Kellogg's firm, A.N. Kellogg Auxiliary Newspaper Company, spent the next thirty-nine years expanding their market throughout the United States. At the beginning of 1882 Kellogg opened a branch office in Kansas City, Missouri. Although it was Kellogg's third branch, it appears to be the first auxiliary newspaper company to market-ready print news to the Kansas City regional area, including west of the Missouri River. Over 55 small newspapers were on the Kellogg Auxiliary list for Kansas City that same year. Kellogg's branches reached from Chicago to Memphis, Tennessee and Little Rock, Arkansas in the South, Wichita, Kansas in the West and Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio in the east.

Ansel Nash Kellogg died in 1884 but his company continued a highly successful operation until it was purchased by George Joslyn's Western Newspaper Union in 1906. Until that time Kellogg's firm was possibly the largest of the auxiliary news services, holding the most expansive territory in ready-print news sales. Other ready-print companies that began competing in the industry in 1870 included; the Chicago Newspaper Union, the New York Newspaper Union, the Southern Newspaper Union, and Aikens' Newspaper Union of Milwaukee.

By 1877 competition was stiff and the number of ready-print companies continued to grow. Price wars, territorial wars and business buyouts were as fierce as any 20th Century corporate battle. However, the beginning of the 20th Century, the industry drastically changed when George Joslyn and his Western Newspaper Union began taking over the industry created by Kellogg. Although Western Newspaper Union retained its own name throughout its many takeovers, by its own admission, WNU considered itself the heir apparent of the Kellogg Auxiliary Newspaper Union legacy. Under George Joslyn's leadership, WNU went on to become the largest newspaper printing company in the world.

George Joslyn and Western Newspaper Union

In 1870 the State Printing Company was founded in Des Moines, Iowa and in 1876 the name was changed to Iowa Printing Company. In 1878, George Joslyn, with his wife, arrived in Des Moines to accept a position as a shipping clerk at Iowa Printing Company. Before the end of the year, Joslyn's uncle, an owner of Iowa Printing, sent Joslyn to Omaha, Nebraska where he opened a ready-print business, the Omaha Newspaper Union. In June 1880, George Joslyn's business acumen led him to organize the Western Newspaper Union as an Iowa corporation with the first branch located in Des Moines and its secondary branch in Omaha.

In 1881 Joslyn's WNU of Iowa joined forces with real estate moguls Walter A. Bunker and John McEwen of Kansas City, Missouri, to open the Kansas City branch of Western Newspaper Union. The first office was located in the Bunker Building (built in 1881) at 820 Baltimore and 100 W. 9th Street. In 1882 Joslyn and Bunker merged the Des Moines and Kansas City branches and reincorporated in Illinois as Western Newspaper Union. Walter Bunker remained with WNU until c. 1890 at which time he entered business with Col. Robert Van Horn to purchase the Kansas City Journal (John McEwen also joined Bunker and Van Horn on the staff).

Joslyn quickly rose in prominence within the WNU and was the head of two branches, Kansas City, Missouri, and Des Moines, Iowa by 1882. Although no mention has been found on an Omaha branch, the city remained Joslyn's home. Under his leadership, the remaining decade was spent opening branches of WNU in Detroit, Michigan in 1882 and Dallas, Texas in 1884. Joslyn's aggressive business practices allowed WNU to become the dominating force in ready prints throughout the Mississippi Valley territory when he placed WNU branches in St. Louis in 1886, Lincoln, Nebraska in 1888 and Chicago, Illinois in 1889. A final measure of Joslyn's success came in 1890 when he was promoted to General Manager in Omaha and quickly became the majority stockholder and company president.

During the 1890s Kellogg, and the Chicago Newspaper Union were Joslyn's stiffest and primary competitors as they contested WNU for supremacy. At the beginning of the decade, Joslyn reincorporated WNU in Illinois naming Chicago as the national headquarters. It was capitalized at $750,000 of which Joslyn contributed $541,666.

It was not long before Joslyn was the sole owner of WNU. He continued to enlarge and diversify the company which included the purchase of the International Press Association (IPA). With this purchase, the company acquired its first stereotype plate capacity, which gave WNU the ability to produce a variety of products such as advertising inserts and short stories.

Throughout the 1890s, Joslyn continued to acquire and merge with newspaper printing firms from Galveston to Salt Lake City. By 1900 he also created the Western Paper Company (WPC), a paper wholesaler also located in Omaha.

By 1905 "patent insides" of the ready prints had become obsolete due to a service plan developed by Wright A. Patterson, then editor-in-chief for the Kellogg Newspaper Company. Patterson's system supplied individualized service to each paper by allowing more choices and flexibility of printed matter. Shortly after this method went into effect, Joslyn purchased the Kellogg Newspaper Company in January 1906. The buyout added nine new plants and 1,827 newspapers as well as the skills of Wright A. Patterson as editor-in-chief. In 1906 WNU became the largest auxiliary printing business in the United States. The purchase of Kellogg Newspaper Union was the largest and boldest of Joslyn's moves to become the mogul of the publishing industry at the dawning of the 20th Century.

Nearly a decade before his death, Joslyn's aim was to become a monopoly. In 1909 he acquired: the Indiana Newspaper Union; Northwestern Newspaper Union; Beal's New York Newspaper Union along with its nine branches; and the Chicago Newspaper Union. After two years and the acquisition of nineteen plants with 2,600 newspapers, Joslyn had nearly completed his monopoly. However, he still wanted to obtain the American Press Association (APA). One issue prevented him from acquiring the APA, the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. However, Joslyn died in 1916, before he could complete his plans.

As a potential lawsuit to break up Joslyn's company, lawyers in the Department of Justice argued that, when Joslyn's attempt to purchase APA failed, Joslyn began a bitter campaign of competition to run the APA out of business. In 1912 a federal judge sought a decree to end the fight without dissolving either company, as well as applying restraint in dealing with Joslyn to end the practice of his ruthless takeovers and buyouts.

The issue was not settled until 1917, a year after Joslyn's death. WNU's staff of executives, all of whom were employed by Joslyn himself, had either absorbed or outdistanced every newspaper company in the United States except the American Press Association. Because of the early ruling the two companies had to compromise. "WNU paid $500,000 to APA for its plates, mat and photographic services. In consideration of a yearly royalty, APA was to stay out of the country syndicate business for 20 years. The agreement [was scheduled to expire] in September 1937."

When Joslyn died in 1916 he was the wealthiest man in Nebraska. More than a decade after Joslyn's death, his widow Sarah Joslyn began negotiations to sell her controlling interest in the WNU. At that time it served fifty million people with over thirty-six branch offices. She retained a substantial amount of preferred stock. On July 14th, 1929, $4.5 million was offered in sale. However, the newspaper syndicate retained its active department heads and continued business as usual.

The patent-inside service once made up 100 percent of the Kellogg business but by 1952 it was only five percent of the WNU business. The sale of the patent-inside ceased on March 29th, 1952 as WNU. The WNU Company in Kansas City operated at 10th and Central until 1961 when J. Milton Jungbluth, who had been a manager of WNU for seventeen years, purchased the building and the business and changed the name to Western Graphic Arts Supply Company. Jungbluth, as president of Graphic Arts, continued the business of offset and letterpress supplies and equipment, as a division of Hammermill Paper Company. Hammermill, who purchased WNU in the late 1950s, is now owned by International Paper Company.

Ansel Nash Kellogg began an evolution in the newspaper industry as an inventor and innovator. His vision and desire to print news for the masses led to the ready print industry that George Joslyn built into an empire. Joslyn's influence came during an era when rapid business concentration and consolidation led to efficient organizations that could service thousands of people at low prices. Kellogg's legacy, continued by Joslyn through the Western Newspaper Union developed into the syndicated news service that still influence millions of readers today.

The Auxiliary Newspaper Business in Kansas City

The number of newspapers serviced by Kellogg in the Kansas City area before WNU's purchase is unknown. However, ten years following WNU's acquisition of Kellogg's business, WNU published a booklet listing all newspapers serviced through the news union. In the 1916 booklet, The Kellogg & Western Lists, est. 1865: Western Newspaper Union, the importance that Kellogg had in the publication of the syndicated daily weekly newspapers in America was indicated in the retention of the Kellogg name, 10 years after WNU purchased the Kellogg Newspaper Auxiliary. In the booklet, the Kansas City branch at 305 W. 10th Street was listed as printing newspapers for 157 weekly publications in Missouri, 114 in Kansas, 2 weekly papers in Arkansas and 5 papers in Oklahoma. Statistically, the WNU in Missouri was the seventh largest state in the market of the news union with the Kansas City ranking in ninth place on the city level.

The second page of the Kellogg and Western Lists booklet best describes the sales technique used by the WNU in its marketing of ready-printed articles, news stories, special interest material and advertising. The industry served both daily and weekly publications as well as magazines that were subscribed to by the millions.

The Sanborn Insurance map of 1906 illustrates the location of the various duties that took place in the daily operation of the ready-print industry. The basement level housed the large printing presses necessary to fill the order demands from county publishers of ready-printed newspapers.

The first floor of the building held the stereotype equipment which consisted of duplicate printing plates that were cast from a paper matrix used in letterpress. This was done by creating a metal mold of an advertisement, or story. A papier-mache mold was then made by pressing paper material against the metal plate under pressure so that a matrix forms a mirror image. The paper matrix was then mailed to the county news publishers who bought the Kellogg/WNU service. The local newspaper publisher would then use another metal mold created by pouring metal over the matrix. This duplicate mold is called a stereotype. These plates had a short shelf life.

An electrotype room was located at the rear of the building, on the west side. In this area wax, and/or metal molds were used to create duplications of original printing plates and were most frequently used for service to magazine publishers you had a large ranging subscriber clientele. These plates were more durable and could be used in numerous print runs over a much longer period of time. Both methods provided an inexpensive method for advertising both locally and nationally.

Besides housing the heavy press equipment, the basement served as a supply area for newsprint and supplies. The remaining floor space and second floor served as offices and composition rooms. The 1906 Sanborn includes the 1906 addition to the original building designed for Kellogg Newspaper Union and reflects the WNU's purchase of the firm.

Syndicated newspaper unions, such as Kellogg and WNU in Kansas City, allowed smaller newspapers to increase their print space, serve their subscribers with the latest and breaking national and international news while the editor controlled the editing and printing of his own local news. Patent-insides were also referred to as ready-prints or pre-prints. The auxiliary newspaper could mass-produce ready-prints for a large market of newspapers at a relatively low cost.

When Kellogg first began his ready-print company, newspapers were still using printing equipment similar to the Gutenberg press, at that time, a 400-year-old technology. In June 1875, the improved press features were put into operation in the Chicago shop. Kellogg's improvements led to other innovations that quickly spread throughout the industry creating competition in the area of supply and demand. By the time Kellogg moved to Kansas City in 1882, he had patented an improvement to printing plates and fastenings.

By 1879 there were 22 auxiliary newspapers throughout the United States. These facilities supplied printed news and columns to over 2,500 subscribing newspapers including magazines and specialty newspapers similar to the K C Call, The Catholic Reporter, and The Jewish Chronicle, all of whom subscribed to the print services of the WNU of Kansas City, Missouri, at various times in their history. Women in the mid-west received fashion advice through articles ranging from how to stay young and lovely to how to discipline children were also a popular printed format for which the WNU would supply material.

Boilerplating was another form of pre-print but involved a process of building a plate of metal stamped with articles, or stories, which were then purchased by country newspapers, then printed at their location. Boilerplate refers to any text that is or can be reused in new contexts or applications without being changed much from the original. Kellogg introduced this new format to his subscribers. It was more expensive than the ready-prints but still cost-effective.

Boilerplates were cast or stamped in metal and prepared for the printing press then distributed throughout the United States. Thousands of newspapers received and used this kind of boilerplate beginning with Kellogg in 1875 until the 1950s from the nation's largest supplier, the Western Newspaper Union.

One of the most important aspects of the auxiliary industry was the ability to remain anonymous. The subscribers to local country newspapers were unaware that the stories of national news were not covered by their local paper. The country publishers had the benefit of receiving credit for news that was perhaps written by reporters from Chicago or New York City. Kellogg, in particular, believed he could lend a helping hand to struggling small newspapers across the country by making them look more professional through his pre-printed format. He offered the work of respected and experienced writers that would contribute anonymously to country newspapers. The tradition of anonymity continued after Kellogg was bought out by WNU.

Another aspect of pre-printed newspapers and its importance to country newspapers was cost-effectiveness. In 1893 the prices on boilerplates ran from $1.50 for a Kids page to $3.00 for a humorous page. "Continued stories" from authors such as Mark Twain, Jack London, and the tales of Horatio Alger were produced on boilerplates and sold to country newspapers.

Ansel Nash Kellogg

The development of the production of newspapers into mass-media communication in the United States begins with a small newspaper owner in Baraboo, Wisconsin. In 1859, Ansel Nash Kellogg established the Republican newspaper in Baraboo. The printing technology that Gutenberg developed in the year 1440 involving typeset presses were largely still in use. Early in his career, Kellogg had been frustrated with the slowness of handset type to print a country newspaper. When the Civil War began in 1861, newspapers across the country suffered as key printers and typesetters left their jobs to fight, north or south alike. Kellogg found it nearly impossible to print his four-page newspaper by himself.

Kellogg went to the largest newspaper printing plant in neighboring Madison, Wisconsin. He contracted them to print half his newspaper on their faster presses and returned to Baraboo where he edited and printed the other half with local news. As a result, Kellogg's readers began receiving news about the war, and the rest of the world, on a timelier basis. Thanks to Kellogg, July 10th, 1861 was the beginning of American ready-print.

The labor shortage and especially that of printers and typesetters, along with Kellogg's success, inspired fifty other country papers to join the ready-print movement before the end of the Civil War. Kellogg immediately saw a business opportunity in his ready-print newspaper. He sold his paper and moved to Chicago where he set up a company devoted to producing pre-printed newspapers. In the process, he also gave birth to what became the "standard look of American newspapers," by standardizing column length and width as well as a standard layout and print type that allowed the ready-printed format to appear as coming from a single press.

Also to continue the illusion that the newspaper was still in the hands of the country editors, no by-lines or dates were used. The local editor was given credit for the entire newspaper under the title: "Editor and Publisher." Kellogg never identified himself in his pre-prints. By 1871, after six years in business, he "had accumulated a circulation of over 140,000 throughout the Mid-west. ...only Le Petit Journal of Paris exceeded it in circulation."

In 1863, Kellogg applied for a patent (No. 37,293) for a job press that he had improved in 1862. In 1875 he introduced the ready-print or "boilerplate," which was a pre-etched printing plate that held news features and columns. Small newspapers that had refused the idea of pre-prints, bought the boilerplates at two and one-half cents per inch.

Pre-printed news also had its pitfalls. In 1871, the year of the great Chicago Fire, all three Chicago print houses were lost. Kellogg quickly rebuilt but he new that the "secret" of printing patent-insides had been exposed to the national readers. The small country newspapers were suddenly missing large sections of news, articles and advertisements and the local papers had to confess that some of their news stories were printed in Chicago.

Other problems such as late trains, lost shipments, and even lack of bribe money to freight agents, would delay deliveries of the pre-printed paper to the local newspaper editor, leaving the subscribers empty-handed. Kellogg devised a system where a story never appeared the same day in a neighboring town. He mixed the issues in numerous ways. Western Newspaper Union, who later absorbed Kellogg's company, advised editors how to deal with public relations in their Publisher's Auxiliary advising local papers on how to hide the ready-prints from their readers. Although ready-print and patent insides were profitable for publishers they were a problem for many editors. The editor lost editorial control over half, and often, more than half of the newspaper.

During the 1880s a total of four major pre-printed newspapers unions had been established. The Kellogg Company, located in Chicago, served more than 1,400 newspapers in the mid-west. Also in Chicago, Western Newspaper Union (WNU) had 1,250 while the Chicago Newspaper Union had 1,000 customers. The only East Coast pre-print was offered by New York Newspaper Union where 1,200 franchised customers purchased patent-insides. Nearly one-third of all American weeklies purchased patent insides or pre-prints while most of the remaining weeklies used ready prints or boilerplates.

In 1882 the A.N. Kellogg Company established a Kansas City branch, the second such branch and the first outside of Chicago. At this time, Kellogg was a $200,000 corporation with 1,400 newspapers supplying stereotyped plates to several thousand others. In 1901 the Kellogg Company built a new home for the business on the northwest corner of Tenth and Central Streets. In 1906, George Joslyn of the WNU, who had tried for a number of years to purchase the Kellogg Company, did so in 1906.

Building Description

The Western Newspaper Union Building, located at 304 W. 10th Street, Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, was constructed in 1900 with a major addition in 1906. The contractors of the building were C. Schnape (1900) and George L. Brown (1906). Distinguishing characteristics of this building include a rusticated base, cast-iron columns, projecting sheet metal cornices at the main (south) and east facades, contrasting terra cotta quoining and an abundance of narrow fenestration (openings are original with replacement windows).

The main facade faces south and is divided into five bays, marked by rusticated brick piers and cast-iron columns at the storefronts of the second and fourth bays. Moving west to east, the first story features a non-original metal overhead dock door at the first bay; the transom has been boarded up. A bank of four narrow wood framed openings with multipaned aluminum replacement units is placed at the second bay. The main entrance, placed at the third bay, features a non-original aluminum framed single-leaf man door crowned by a non-original glass block transom and flanked by narrow sidelights. Fenestration placed to the east of the off-centered entrance is configured like that of the windows at the second bay. Window units at the western portion are placed above sheet metal bulkheads, while the windows at the eastern half of the south facade are placed above wood spandrels and basement units.

Fenestration at the second story of the south facade is styled much the same as those of the first story. Units at the end bays at the center bay (the projecting bays distinguished by contrasting terra cotta quoining) are placed in pairs and are triple hung, wood sash. At the second and fourth bays, the triple-hung wood sash units are grouped in pairs of three. The paired units feature wide stone lintels and all units have stone lug sills.

The east facade is articulated much the same as the main or south facade. Rusticated brick piers divide the bays and the bays at the second story are further articulated by terra cotta quoining. The far south bay features paired aluminum window units set in the original wood frames, set above a sheet metal bulkhead. Fenestration at the center bay features two pairs of multipaned aluminum units set within the original wood frame. These units feature stone sills. The far north bay has been modified by a non-original single-leaf man door and a wooden double-leaf door set below wood paneling that has covered the original window units at that bay. The second story fenestration at the end bays is paired, non-original fixed units set within the original wood frames. Each window unit features wide stone lintels and stone lug sills. The center bays feature triple-hung, wood sash units with stone lug sills. Aluminum downspouts flank the center bays.

The west facade is generally characterized by its masonry exterior. There are three two-over-two, double-hung sash windows each set in a segmental arch, at the first story. The second story features three of the same windows, with the addition of a smaller two-over-two double-hung sash unit toward the northern end of the facade.

A one-story addition, constructed in 1906 and linked to the northern face of the main unit's west facade, features three pairs of two-over-two wood frame double-hung sash units at the west facade. Its north facade, altered from the original, features an overhead metal door at the eastern half and a single-leaf man door and wood infill at the western half of the facade. The second story fenestration is non-original, fixed with faux dividers.

Additional features include tile coping and an exposed stone foundation at the one-story unit. The interior of the building has been modified over the years with partitions.

A four-story brick building shares a party wall with the north facade of the property. To the west of the building is a surface parking lot, while a 1940s parking garage is located to the east. To the south is a contemporary parking garage.

Currently, there are proposed plans for the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of the Western Newspaper Union Building. Future plans include rehabilitation of the exterior and interior spaces.

Western Newspaper Union Building, Kansas City Missouri South or main facade (2006)
South or main facade (2006)

Western Newspaper Union Building, Kansas City Missouri Main entrance, south facade (2006)
Main entrance, south facade (2006)

Western Newspaper Union Building, Kansas City Missouri Western bays of the south facade (2006)
Western bays of the south facade (2006)

Western Newspaper Union Building, Kansas City Missouri South and east facades (2006)
South and east facades (2006)

Western Newspaper Union Building, Kansas City Missouri East facade (2006)
East facade (2006)

Western Newspaper Union Building, Kansas City Missouri West facade (2006)
West facade (2006)

Western Newspaper Union Building, Kansas City Missouri West facade (2006)
West facade (2006)

Western Newspaper Union Building, Kansas City Missouri West facade with one-story addition (2006)
West facade with one-story addition (2006)

Western Newspaper Union Building, Kansas City Missouri South and west facades (2006)
South and west facades (2006)

Western Newspaper Union Building, Kansas City Missouri Lobby (2006)
Lobby (2006)

Western Newspaper Union Building, Kansas City Missouri Typical interior partition (2006)
Typical interior partition (2006)

Western Newspaper Union Building, Kansas City Missouri Second floor (2006)
Second floor (2006)