The Historic Roots of Our Entrepreneur-Built Workspace

By June 13, 2016Space
Think Big Entrepreneurs Gather in the Globe Building at 1712 Main, Kansas City Missouri

If These Timbers Could Talk

Among the timbers that sustain this building, men and women dream, work, create, and make things happen every day. This is what we do. This is what keeps the building, Think Big and the dreams of the people inside it alive.

Among these very same timbers, another man, 114 years ago, also celebrated his triumph. His name was William Edmund Sullivan, and we don’t really know much about him. We do know, however, that he was born in Saint Louis on May 14, 1869. We know that his parents moved to Kansas City three years later, and we know a few other details of his life.

He grew up in Kansas City, probably in one of the leafy neighborhoods where the up-and-coming middle class made their homes during this “City Beautiful” age. He went to public schools in KC. Sadly, we do not know which ones he attended. He went on to attend Notre Dame University, and graduated in 1887. From that year on, he worked in the City Clerk’s office for some nine years, apparently winning praise for his efficiency.

We also know that William Edmund Sullivan was a dreamer, a man with ambition, an entrepreneur, for it is registered that he founded the Globe Storage and Transfer Company in 1896. Available records show that from 1898 through 1902, the company occupied two spaces down the street at 1624 and 1626 Main Street, Kansas City, Missouri. It is not difficult to imagine that his company prospered and grew rapidly because around 1902, he commissioned the building of the seven story timber-framed building at 1712 Main Street that we work from today. Imagine the growth that he experienced in less than six years that allowed him to commission such a large building.

What exactly did the Globe Storage and Transfer Company do? Again, we cannot say with certainty beyond what its name tells us. Nevertheless, it is clear that it solved a serious problem for the inhabitants of this fine city otherwise it would not have grown so much so quickly. Kansas City was a hustling and bustling industrial and commercial metropolis, a transportation hub, a growing cosmopolitan enclave facing the Great North American Prairie. In such a place, we can imagine that long and short term storage of goods moving in all directions by boat, buggy and train was a problem, not a headache problem, but a severe migraine problem. This is, in all probability, what the Globe Storage and Transfer company solved. And, this is why, beyond any political connections that Mr. William Edmund Sullivan had, it prospered and grew at such speed.

Records are scant about what happened to Mr. Sullivan’s company after 1910 when it was sold. The company dissolved at some point during the next thirty or forty years. We do not know either what he did with his life after that. Some records seem to show that he lived until 1961 and died in either Kansas City or Oklahoma, but nothing is certain. Still, the fruits of his dream, of his startup, if you will, survive right here right now, among these timbers keeping his building erect to shelter the dreamers and doers that show up at Think Big every day to create, to dream, to connect, to solve problems, to make things happen.


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