It’s hard to imagine Liberty without the Corner Bar, but it happened. A long time ago.
The land that the Corner Bar sits on was part of land belonging to early Liberty resident and Jesse James victim of the first daylight robbery, Mr. Greenup Bird. Hence, the name of this area just east and north of Downtown Liberty is sometimes referred to as “Bird’s Addition”. It’s also been referred to as “Lafite’s” land, as it was owned by the Lafite family for a number of years.
The first noted business use of the Corner Bar location at Kansas and Missouri streets was the P.B. Burns Lumber Yard (see 1883 Sanborn map). At that time, nothing more than a temporary office stood canted at the corner; it couldn’t have been larger than the size of a car. The Columbus Buggy Company sat at the end of the block at Kansas and Leonard streets (across from Second Baptist Church), and there was scarcely anything else on the block, save horse boarding that sat in the center of Kansas.
Peter Burns (much more about him in another blog post to come) sold his share of the lumber yard to partner James Costello in 1888. Eventually Costello sold it again to John Varble, who moved the operation one block south to just north of Mill on Missouri. Costello and Burns were also partners in a successful lumber yard in Kearney, and Costello owned the Major Hotel at the northwest corner of Franklin and Missouri streets here in Liberty.
Our building, the “Shafer Building”, is reported to have been built in 1910 (Piland/Ugoccioni Historic Inventory, April 1985), but the 1913 Sanborn map shows the Kansas-Missouri streets corner still undeveloped. At that time, a roller skating rink up the block at Missouri and Franklin was shown, as well as an “open air theatre” in the center of the block (where the parking lot for Church-Archer-Pasley now sits), and a cobbler sitting close by on our side of Kansas Street but still nothing on our beloved corner.
We are still looking for information to nail down the exact year our building was erected. The search continues!