GONE! Commercial Auction: Prominent Historic “Harvey Ellis” Building | St. Joseph, MO

For Sale at Auction with Starting Bid of only $25,000! Architecturally Significant Original “Central Police Station Building” Plus Related Structures and Grounds

Iconic building immediately recognizable as the work of renowned architect Harvey Ellis. Built in 1890, the 3-story brick structure features limestone detailing, slate roof & signature round tower. Add’l buildings + grounds included.

Began: 10/19/16 at 12:00 PM CDT
Location: 701 Messanie Street, St. Joseph, MO 64501



This iconic building is immediately recognizable as the work of renowned architect Harvey Ellis. Built in 1890, the 3-story brick structure features limestone ornamentation, slate roof and signature round tower. Additional buildings and grounds are included. Bidding opens at the seller’s reserve of only $25,000! 



Famous for his “Richardson Romanesque” designs and his beautiful concept renderings, artist and architect Harvey Ellis spent most of his career in New York and Minnesota where he influenced structures from homes to skyscrapers. In 1889 he moved to St. Joseph, Missouri, to join the firm of Eckel and Mann. His design for the St. Louis City Hall won first place and was built in 1904. His well-known Compton Hill Water Tower in St. Louis (1898) is on the National Register of Historic Places. While with Eckel and Mann, Ellis also designed several homes for prominent St. Joseph citizens along with the new Central Police Station commissioned by the City and completed in 1891. Most recently home to the National Military Heritage Museum, the iconic building will begin its next chapter with this sale.



After its founding in 1843, growth in St. Joseph was slow until the California Gold Rush. An official police department was created in 1858 as the population grew. The addition of a railroad spurred additional growth and by 1890 the police force had grown to 40 patrolmen in 10 districts. On July 17, 1890 the mayor signed an ordinance appropriating $10,000 to build a new Central Police Station on the site of the hay and livestock market. An additional $10,000 was later appropriated to complete the interior in time for occupancy on November 25, 1891. Continued city growth and expansion of police service necessitated an addition to the building in 1909.

In 1939 the Police Department moved to a new headquarters building and the original Central Police Station saw varied subsequent uses including housing a U.S. Marine Corps howitzer unit after World War II, a taxi cab company, and a bag factory. Since 1989 the building has been the proud home of the National Military Heritage Society and museum. As the museum moves to a new location, the stage is set for new owners and new uses of this stalwart building. In recognition of its historic and architectural significance, it was placed on the National Register for Historic Places in 2009.

(For additional details on the history of the building, please see the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form at www.CatesAuction.com.)



As excerpted from the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form

“The building is three stories with a two-story addition (1909) connected to the eastern portion of the original structure (1890-91). The structure has a modified L-shaped plan with a round tower. The building is built in the Richardson Romanesque style with heavy brick masonry bearing walls that rise from a brick foundation. Fenestration heavily pervades the bays of the south, east, and west elevations, but is more subtle on the north elevation. The structure’s entryways are cavernous, there are deeply recessed windows that show the thickness of the walls, and there are bands of windows. The building has a hipped roof with slate shingles, a masonry chimney, three parapeted gables, and four dormers. The addition has a flat roof. Limestone ornamentation and details, along with decorative brick work, such as pilasters, shields, and projecting string courses give the station a strong castle-like appearance. The walls of each façade are recessed above a stone stringcourse just below the guttering. Limestone details have been painted white. The use of different textured brick also provides decorative appeal to the exterior of the structure. A tower with a conical slate roof protrudes from the building at the southwest corner. The corners of the building are accentuated by quoins.”

(Detailed architectural descriptions of each elevation can be found in the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, available at www.CatesAuction.com.)


FAST FACTS about the Central Police Station Building (701 Messanie):

  • Designed by Harvey Ellis
  • Style: Richardson Romanesque
  • Original building: Built in 1890 – 3 floors
  • Addition: Built in 1909 – 2 floors
  • Current owner: National Military Heritage Society
  • Foundation: Brick
  • Exterior: Red brick (locally produced) w/limestone details
  • Roof: Wood frame with slate on main building; low-slope membrane on addition
  • Flooring: Concrete & Wood
  • Heating: First and second floors
  • Air conditioning: None
  • Fire protection: Wet sprinklers on main three floors; dry sprinkler in attic. (Installed 1947)
  • Seller’s disclosure list included in Property Information Package



While the iconic Central Police Station building has been adapted for multiple uses over the years, it retains its historic and architectural significance. Many alterations made for work flow and energy efficiencies are easily reversible. The design, materials, and workmanship remain. The structure needs modernization and maintenance relative to intended future use. Note: While original plans were lost, a comprehensive floor plan from 1948 (and still essentially current) is available in the auction Property Information Package and at www.CatesAuction.com.

MAIN FLOOR (7167 sf): Grade level with primary entrance on Messanie and service entrance on 7th. Multiple offices, storage rooms, and large open areas. Large transomed windows on south and west elevations. Rectangular room on north end with overhead door (originally storage for the patrol wagon). Two stairwells and access to basement. Mostly brick walls, some with original lathe & plaster finish. Steel pillars and beams (installed with addition). Wood ceiling with visible sprinkler system. Concrete floor.

SECOND FLOOR (7167 sf): Originally served as offices, storage, and a courtroom. Center hall anchored by triple window configuration above main entrance. Concrete vault room. Access via two stairwells. Most walls are brick with lathe & plaster finish. Wood ceiling with visible sprinkler system. The glass skylight installed with the 1909 addition has been covered. Finished wood floors plus some concrete/linoleum.

THIRD FLOOR (4830 sf): Access via south stairs. One large open area with lowered floor in tower portion. Ceiling is sloped roof framing with painted wood. Sealed wood floors.

BASEMENT (823 sf): Located under the western portion of the main building. Originally served as the boiler room but now houses the fire protection system. Coal bin and exterior access were eliminated for a public works sidewalk improvement project. Water must be pumped out periodically. Masonry walls and concrete floor.



701 Messanie Street, St. Joseph, MO

Parcel ID: 06-3.0-08-004-003-062.000

Lot Size: 120 x 120

Approx. Building Size: 19,987 sf

  • Basement = 823 sf
  • 1st Floor = 7167 sf
  • 2nd Floor = 7167 sf
  • 3rd Floor = 4830 sf


613 Messanie Street, St. Joseph, MO

Parcel ID: 06-3.0-08-004-003-082.000

Lot Size: 120 x 83.38 IRR

This parcel includes two tracts of vacant land fronting Messanie (613/615 – structures removed) and five adjoining distressed commercial buildings (617/619, 621/623 & 520 S. 7th). The primary/south façade of 623 faces Messanie and the secondary/east façade faces 7th.


516 South 7th Street, St. Joseph, MO

Parcel ID: 06-3.0-08-004-003-081.000

Lot Size: 54.61 x 120

This parcel is a tract of vacant land fronting 7th Street.

(Structure demolished in 2005)



Our company has sold many commercial properties at auction, but few with the architectural significance and impressive pedigree of this historic building. Available to the public for the first time in nearly 30 years, this unique building has a wide variety of potential uses. With a starting bid of only $25,000, this auction is truly a rare opportunity. Consider the tremendous upside then make your advance offer or bid live on October 19th.



  1. Make an offer in advance. Call 816-781-1134 for details. Subject to auction terms.
  2. Bid live onsite. Registration opens one hour in advance. See terms for requirements.
  3. Bid live online. Advance registration required.


Quick Reference – Properties included in this sale:

  1. 701 Messanie St. — Primary building.
  2. 613 Messanie St. — Includes 613/615 (vacant lots) and 617, 619, 621, 623 & 520 S. 7th St.
  3. 516 South 7th — Vacant lot.


Note: All measurements and property identification information taken from tax records and information provided by seller.





Onsite bidder registration will begin one hour before the auction. Online bidder registration is open now. All bidders must provide a valid driver’s license and current address.  Online bidders must also provide a credit card to register.  By registering, all bidders acknowledge having read and agree to be bound by the Auction Terms and Conditions.



The successful bidder(s) shall be required to make a 10% non-refundable down payment of the total purchase price immediately following the close of bidding.   Cash, cashier’s check or personal/business check will be accepted from onsite bidders.  Bank wire will also be accepted from online bidders.



Financing is not a contingency of sale in this offering. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that potential bidders ensure in advance that they are able to obtain the necessary financing to close the transaction.



The successful bidder(s) shall execute a purchase agreement immediately following the close of bidding. All final bid prices are subject to Seller approval, unless announced otherwise.



Buyer(s) shall close within 45 days of the auction date. Possession will be delivered at closing subject to any remaining rights of the current tenant(s), if applicable.



Seller shall furnish at seller’s expense an Owner’s Policy of Title Insurance in the amount of the total purchase price and shall execute a general warranty deed conveying the real estate to the buyer(s).



2016 taxes are to be prorated as of the closing date.



Sale of said property is subject to any and all easements of record and any and all leases.



Cates Auction & Realty Co., Inc. and its representatives are Exclusive Agents of the Seller.



A buyer’s premium of ten percent (10%) shall be added to the high bid and included in the total purchase price to be paid by the successful bidder(s).



A commission will be paid to any properly licensed Broker who registers a successful buyer according to the appropriate Broker Participation Agreement. This form is available from the Auction Company and must be completed and returned no later than 48 hours prior to the auction.



The information in the auction advertising was obtained from sources believed to be accurate, but is subject to verification by all parties relying on it.  All sketches and dimensions are approximate.  No liability for its accuracy, errors or omissions is assumed by the Seller or the auction company. All bidders are responsible for conducting their own inspections, investigations, inquiries and due diligence concerning the property. The property is being offered on an “AS IS”, “WHERE IS” basis and no warranty or representations, expressed or implied, is made by the Seller or the auction company. All announcements made by the Auctioneer during the auction take precedence over any previously printed material or any other oral statements made. All information contained in the advertising and all related materials are subject to the terms and conditions outlined in the purchase agreement. Advertising may contain pictures of wildlife and other items that are for illustrative purposes only. The Auctioneer reserves the right to bid on behalf of the Seller up to, but not beyond the Seller’s reserve (if applicable). The Property is available for and subject to sale prior to auction.


Video: Historic “Harvey Ellis” Building

Video: News Story from Fox 26 KNPN


From SOUTH: I-29 north to I-229N (exit 43), right on S 3rd Street (turns left and becomes Messanie Street), property on the north side of the street. From NORTH: I-29 south or I-229 south to S Felix Street, right on S 3rd Street (turns left and becomes Messanie Street), property on north side of street. 

Click on any image to view larger.

Click on any image to view larger.

701 Messanie Street, St. Joseph, MO South Elevation South & East Elevations West Elevation Main Entrance
Signature Tower Architectural Details Turrett Architectural Details
Ground Floor Second Floor Third Floor Main Entrance from interior Ground Floor
Ground Floor Ground Floor Ground Floor Ground Floor Ground Floor
Ground Floor Ground Floor Ground Floor Ground Floor Ground Floor
Ground Floor Second Floor Second Floor Interior Detail
Second Floor looking to main entrance Pocket Doors Second Floor Second Floor
Second Floor Second Floor Second Floor Second Floor
Second Floor Second Floor Second Floor Second Floor
Second Floor Second Floor Round Office Safe Third Floor
Third Floor Basement (Fire suppression unit) Tract 3: 516 South 7th Street (to right)
Tract 2: 613 Messanie Street Tract 2: 613 Messanie Street (613-623) Corner of Messanie & S. 7th Streets 3 Tracts are Included in this Sale

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