The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003, and then underwent an extensive, certified historic rehab. Joe Vaccaro originally built a one story building in 1921 to house his growing soda water manufacturing and bottling business. The next year he added the rest of the building, which included a reception hall on the second floor and a partial third story penthouse, where he intended to live with his wife. They lived in an apartment building, next door (which has since been demolished), and never finished out the penthouse. The reception hall played an important role in the Italian community, which dominated the neighborhood at that time, hosting numerous wedding receptions and dances.
After Joe died in 1959, Albert LaSala (owner of the famous LaSala’s Deli, next door) bought the building and continued to use it to host receptions and dances. In 1965, he turned the penthouse into a pistol range. A building permit from 1974 shows the building was used as a Moose Lodge and soon thereafter it was sold to Bob Brandt, who used it for his business, Metro Service, which did fire and water damage restoration.
Vaccaro’s Hall, circa 1935: This was a wedding reception sometime around 1935. When someone rented the hall, part of the deal was that they were to drink only Vaccaro’s soda products. Several of the people in these photos still live in the neighborhood. This photo is looking northeast, showing what is now Loft 6 and Loft 7.
Aerial: This photo came from the special collections of the Kansas City Public Library.
On June 14th, 1928, while Kansas City was hosting the Republican Convention that nominated Herbert Hoover, 5 or 6 bandits robbed the Home Trust company bank at 1119 Walnut. The vice president of the bank was in the basement and heard the disturbance (the bandits came in firing revolvers in the air) and seized a tear bomb pistol, mounted the steps and fired. The bandits split with a little over $19,000, and left more than $50,000 “within easy reach.” On their way out, from their getaway car, they shot traffic cop Happy Smith at his intersection at 11th and Walnut, in the chest at point blank range. Several other people were injured in the shoot-out, including another cop and another bystander died of a heart attack from the excitement.
Happy was a very popular guy and the cops made arrests rather quickly and, many believe, hastily. Five men were charged: the one who owned the car went to jail for life but was eventually granted a new trial and released; another went to jail for life but was transferred to an insane asylum, where he later died; another, Sam Stein, was never captured; and three men, all from the North End (Columbus Park), were tried and convicted and hung from gallows at the same time in the City Market (outside the jail) on July 25th, 1930. This photo was taken during their funeral procession on the following Monday, July 28th, 1930. The same plane that shot this photo released several white doves.
The three “Home Trust Bandits” who were hanged were:
John Messino, 564 Holmes, driver of the bandit car. The day before the hanging, he made a statement to a reporter that Maurice Nagle (the owner of the car, who was like his brother) had no knowledge of the crime when he loaned it to him.
Tony (“Lollipop”) Mangiaracina, 524 Forest Ave., a jokester and kind of the spokesperson for the condemned men.
Carl Nasello, 1048 East 5th Street
It was reported that the doomed men died gallantly. The headline read, “Lollipop urged his pals to smile on Death March” and Happy’s father, Ira Roney Smith, came to witness the execution with two of his other sons, Happy’s brothers, and was quoted as saying, “Justice has been done. They went out game.”
918 E. 5th Street, Kansas City, MO 64106