Sunday, May 18, 2014

U.S. Engineering / Southwestern Bell

Industry Review continues with a look at spots #345 and #341, U. S. Engineering and Southwestern Bell Telephone, respectively.  This one post covers two industries since the buildings are directly adjacent to one another and seem to have only been split this way for a specific time period.

U. S. Engineering is a nationwide mechanical contractor with roots in Germany from 1855 and America from 1893.  Their specialty is in design, construction, and installation of air handling, piping, cooling and heating systems with a heavy emphasis on fabrication at the plant.

This is welcome news for the railroad modeler as the raw materials for their fabrication like rolled steel and piping could've conceivably arrived by rail.  An aerial shot of their facility on Roanoke Road outlines a covered unloading area with rail service from the north and truck docks on the south.  There's clearly the left overs of rail service to this location, including the rail-size gate, rail-car height dock and oversize door.

A ground-level view of the receiving area shows the dock, currently storing piping and other materials a-plenty.  Regular shipments of raw materials or perhaps even specialty components like large chillers and air handling equipment are plausible.

It isn't as evident it these photos, but when I visited in person, it was clear that the dock space in front of the overhead door was a more recent creation, likely filling in the space where railcars once went inside.

The company obtained this building on Roanoke Road in 1957 from Western Electric when they relocated from elsewhere in Kansas City to make room for the freeway (today's I-70/I-670/US-71/[I-49]) interchange.  In 1972, Southwestern Bell Telephone is still shown occupying spot #341 adjacent to the north of U.S. Engineering's new building.  In a Sanborn Map current to 1950, the building is shown as split between SW Bell and Western Electric, which of course were closely related.  Both portions are shown as being constructed in 1927 with the single-story portion just being a garage versus the three story portion listed as a warehouse.  In the 1970s, SW Bell may have still gotten telephone poles or large wire spools delivered here and probably used the garage for their local vehicle fleet.  This view of the west side of the building clearly shows the two different segments.

 A bit more detail of the different structures can be seen in this view from the north.

The building has what appears to be the remnants of an automatic window washer.

In modern times, U. S. Engineering has taken over the entire property.  I've not found a date on when Southwestern Bell vacated.

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