WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita is constantly changing, making room for new ideas and businesses. KSN, with help from the Wichita Public Library, the Kansas State Historical Society, the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, and Wichita State University Libraries, is taking a look back at Wichita: Then and Now.
Swipe right or left with the bar in the middle of the picture. After you look through these pictures, check the ones we posted in September.
If you want to submit old photos for us to compare with current buildings, see the link at the bottom of this article.
Wichita High School East
Wichita High School East was designed by architect Lorentz Schmidt and built in 1922-1924. The style is considered modified Collegiate Gothic. The school is now called Wichita East High School. The main building is still standing, but there have been changes to the campus.
Construction on this building at 523 E. Douglas started in 1886 and finished in 1887. It was originally called The Carey House for John Carey, a Wichita mayor and businessman. In the late 1890s, Ben Eaton became proprietor and, eventually, the owner. By 1900, it was considered the fanciest hotel between Kansas City and Denver. That’s also the year Carrie Nation attacked the bar inside the Eaton and first made news as an activist for prohibition. Eaton Place is now an apartment complex.
Fairmount College campus
Fairmount College, founded in 1895, is the forerunner of Wichita State University. Both pictures were taken near 17th and Fairmount looking north toward the campus. WSU is celebrating 125 years in 2020.
This building was constructed as University Hall for Garfield University between 1886-1888. When Garfield closed, the hall sat empty for five years before a wealthy Quaker, James M. Davis, bought it. He donated it to the Kansas Society of Friends which opened Friends University in 1898. The hall was renamed Davis Administration Building in 1923.
The Orpheum Theatre opened in 1922 and featured vaudeville acts, silent films and eventually “talkies.” It was the first atmospheric theater in the United States and it is the oldest one still standing. The last regular movie screening at the theater was in 1976. A non-profit group has been working to restore the theater to its former glory. Until then, the theater still hosts concerts, movies and other entertainment.
Santa Fe Transportation Building
The Santa Fe Transportation Building at the southwest corner of Waterman and Emporia streets was designed by W.I. Fisher and Company. It was completed in 1958. It is now the Wichita Work Release Facility.
Turner Opera House
The Turnverein Society, an organization that included most of Wichita’s German residents, built Turnverein Hall in 1879 on the southwest corner of Market and First Street. It became known as Turner Opera House because it hosted many theatrical productions. It was home to other businesses before being torn down in 1917. The 11-story Lassen Hotel took its place. The hotel eventually became an office building. It is currently called Market Centre and its current owner has been working to turn it into apartments.
The Colonial Theater, 117 North Market, was built for $17,000 and seated 900 people. There is now a parking garage where the theater used to be.
The picture on the left is the Manhattan Hotel, on the northwest corner of Douglas and Topeka, during the flood of 1904. The current building was seen as an important step toward urban renewal in Wichita. It has been the Fourth Financial Center, Fourth National Bank, Bank of America Center, and now, the Ruffin Building.
Wichita Theatre, 310 East Douglas, opened in 1918. Before that, it was the Crystal Theatre which opened in 1905. The building was torn down in 1970. Currently, the Ruffin Building takes up the 300 block of East Douglas.
Wichita Union Station
The railroad station was built at 701 E. Douglas in 1914 to replace the old Santa Fe Depot. The elevated tracks are to the right of the building. In recent years, a developer has been working to turn the building into a hotspot for commercial retailers, restaurants and office space.
Wichita Board of Education Administration Building
One of the former USD 259 Administration buildings was at 428 South Broadway. It is now a vacant lot. The current school business offices are located in the old Southeast High School building at Lincoln and Edgemoor.
The Wichita Eagle
The Wichita Eagle newspaper was based in the building on the left from 1908 to 1961. It was on the southwest corner of William and Market. A parking garage is now at that location.
Douglas Toll Bridge
The first bridge over the Arkansas River at Douglas Avenue was a toll bridge built in 1872. The picture shows a group of Native Americans crossing through the water.
Douglas Toll Bridge, another angle
This is a different angle of the bridge taken in 1878.
Hotel Pacific, built in 1912, in the 200 block of West Douglas, was a downtown landmark across from the Missouri Pacific depot. It was razed in the 1960s to make way for Century II.
The building on the left, in the 200 block of East Douglas, was the dream of Mike Zimmerly. When he died in 1887, his wife oversaw the completion of the building in 1888. It later became the Winne Building. An apartment complex now stands at the site.