Valentine’s Longest-Lasting Business Reveals Neighborhood History
Edward Browne has shared this fascinating history of the buildings at the corner of 33rd and Pennsylvania.
By Edward Browne
In the 1880s, my maternal grandparents, Edward and Mary Dillon Flavin, both from County Kerry, Ireland, purchased a home and established a grocery store in the 2700 block of Jefferson in Kansas City, Missouri in the area then known as “Kerry Patch.”
At the same time, in 1878, the Redemptorist Community established a monastery and later a Parish at 33rd & Broadway in Kansas City, Missouri.
In 1900, Kansas City, Missouri purchased the property that included the “Kerry Patch” to assemble the land for what is now Penn Valley Park.
In 1901, 111 years ago, the Flavins purchased the property at the southwest corner of 33rd & Pennsylvania Ave. and built the first of what would become a three-building complex. The first building was operated as a grocery on the first floor and their private family residence was on the second floor. They built the fourplex to the west of the store in 1910. In 1916, they built the duplex to the south and moved their family from the second floor of the store building to the second floor of the duplex, where they lived until their deaths – Edward in 1922 and Mary in 1944.
Meanwhile, James R. Browne and Margaret Flavin, who were married in 1915, took over the ownership and operation of the grocery around 1917 and changed the name to “Browne’s.” In the 1960s, their eldest son, Bob Browne and his wife, Marge Blake Browne, took over the ownership and operation of the grocery.
Around 1970, Penn Valley Community College took the land between Summit and Broadway from 31st to 33rd Streets. This was a severe blow to Browne’s Grocery and to the Redemptorist Parish because of the displacement of thousands of people. However, Browne’s Grocery, now named Browne’s Irish Market & Deli, and the Redemptorist Parish are still surviving and thriving. In fact, the present Our Lady of Perpetual Help Redemptorist Church is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year.
Browne’s Irish Market and Deli is now owned and operated by Kerry Browne and her husband, John McClain, with Kerry’s sister, Deb Browne Feehan, providing some assistance to them.
On December 22, 1983, the Historic Flavin/Browne Building Complex at 33rd & Pennsylvania Ave. was added to the official Kansas City Register of Historic Places.
The ‘corner’ and adjacent land on the southwest side of Pennsylvania between 33′ and 34l Streets is still owned by Edward J. Browne (third generation) and Kerry Browne and John McClain (fourth generation) and Deb Browne Feehan and Dr. John Feehan (fourth generation) in various shares.
In 2010, Kansas City named the street from 33rd to 34″ on Pennsylvania as the “Honorary Flavin/Browne Ave.”