501-503 North Second Avenue
I’ve been putting this one off for a while. Not because it isn’t interesting but because it’s kind of depressing. This building is one of the oldest in Dodge City and it’s been through some things. It honestly looks like Mom and Dad had a fight and the wreckage was just kind of left forever as a reminder of how pissed they were. Because F you…that’s why!
In addition to being a seriously historic building, it’s also on what I consider to be the most historic of the intact street corners in Dodge. I’m sure everyone has an opinion on that and you’re welcome to argue with me in the comments.
The Wright House was operating as early as 1879 but I’m not certain whether it occupied the northwest corner of Bridge/Second Avenue and Chestnut Street from its inception.
However, I did find a reference from May of 1880 placing the hotel across from the old Globe building so it was definitely there by that time. The Wright House had several different managers during these years. The hotel closed for remodeling at the end of 1881 and reopened in February of 1882.
Ida (Davis) Beadle opened her millinery and dressmaking shop in 1879. When I think of a shop called Mrs. Beadle’s, I imagine a proprietress of a more advanced age than 28. Ida moved her store to a building she had constructed just north of the Wright House in 1884 after paying R. M. Wright $600 for the parcel. Her building wasn’t affected by the fires in 1885 but she did experience a significant inventory loss due to looting.
The 1884 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map is the first one available for Dodge City and it shows a large frame structure at the corner of Chestnut Street and Second Avenue. The addresses for the building at that time were 773-774 Second Avenue.
The Wright House office and dining room were remodeled again at the beginning of 1885, which was a total waste because the property was sold to James Langton & Co. about the third week of January. The new owners intended to convert the building into a general, hardware, and implement store. The Wright House was scheduled to close March 1, 1885.
I don’t know what the Kansas Cowboy writer was smoking but $50,000 in 1885 would be more than $1.5 million today. That’s a helluva risk in a town without adequate fire suppression. Speaking of which, the Langton and Sherlock Building survived both of the big fires in 1885.
Everyone was encouraged at this point to use brick for construction for obvious reasons. James Langton announced in December of 1886 that he would be building a 50′ x125′ brick structure at the site of the old Wright House. The local firm of Weston and Manning was hired to design the building in 1887, which had evolved somewhat from the original idea.
Because of the building’s symmetrical appearance from Second Avenue, I always thought it was built as one unit and then later subdivided. However, I read several articles about the Langton and Beadle buildings (sometimes called blocks) being excavated and constructed at the same time so they may have always been separate parcels. Together, they required 400,000 bricks.
The 1887 Sanborn Map shows a brick building under construction on the site with a hardware store in the middle of the street. Here’s an explanation:
It seems like a very strange arrangement but at the time, Front Street was the main drag and Chestnut was considered to be somewhat remote. You know, being a full block north and all. Incidentally, the county website confirms the current building dates back to 1887. Every now and then, we agree! The old Wright House building was relocated near the round house to be used again as a hotel for railroad workers. Beadle’s bright green frame building was moved to the corner of Second Avenue and Walnut Street to make way for construction.
The building was ready for use in November of 1887 and it was an absolute showstopper. The artist *had* to have embellished it somewhat, right??? I just don’t see how this could have been an accurate representation of the completed structure.
A public library was established in a room above Mrs. Beadle’s store in December of 1887.
The papers reported that Langton and Sherlock sold their portion of the building to H. L. Sitler for only $15,000 in May of 1888, which is roughly the equivalent of $467,000 in 2022. However, Langton and Sherlock were still listed as the owners on the tax rolls in 1891. The hardware store continued normal operations until the stock was foreclosed on by Cox, Galland, and Sherlock in August of 1888.
It would require an entire book to adequately explain what happened with Langton, Cox, Merchants’ State Bank, the Ford County Treasurer’s Office, etc. Let’s just say James Langton nearly took the entire county down with him. He was sued by Carrie Rath, the State of Kansas, and pretty much anyone else who had any business dealings with him. He died in a car accident near Salt Lake City and creditors were pursuing his estate years after his death. It was ugly and many reputations were ruined.
In February of 1889, Langton Hardware Company moved from the corner of Second Avenue and Chestnut Street to one of Dr. Galland’s rooms south of the tracks at the corner of Bridge and Locust Streets. This is where I remind you that Locust was changed to Santa Fe Trail before it was shortened to Trail Street. And Bridge, of course, was finally standardized so it was all Second Avenue.
Sam Stubbs then moved the Central Grocery into the old Langton building and I believe they occupied the space with frontage on Chestnut Street. The second floor of the Langton building underwent renovations for use as a Masonic Hall in the Summer of 1889. At the same time, Mrs. Beadle was looking for occupants for her side of the building.
You may recall when the Third Ward School was condemned, high school instruction was moved to the rooms over Mrs. Beadle’s store. Now you know how that happened. It doesn’t seem to have solved all of her problems, however, because she was advertising her store room for rent in December of 1889. Ida seemed to be much more savvy than James Langton with regard to knowing when to expand or pull back on spending. She rebranded and expanded her offerings to include lower priced household goods when times were tough.
Mrs. Beadle announced she was exiting the millinery business in November of 1891 and operations were winding down in July of 1892.
Mrs. J. A. Bessey bought the business in August of 1892. The Beadle family relocated to Denver and later Little Rock, Arkansas. Mrs. Bessey continued operating the store as The Fair.
And that lasted about a minute.
It’s kind of neat to see how the back ends of the buildings evolved over time. The 1892 Sanborn shows the Masonic Hall on the second floor with retail on the main level. The 1911 Sanborn shows big changes; The block was renumbered to 501 and 503 Second Avenue and 300 W Chestnut on the south frontage. Although the new Masonic Temple was completed in 1908, the Lodge Hall still appears on the second floor. The weird little space behind the north end was filled in a bit with what looks like storage.
This is also the point at which my brain begins to melt. It was a big ‘ole building with a lot of tenants and a ton of typos. It’s impossible to accurately track who all was in which space so I’m just going to drop some ads here in date order.
The 1918 Sanborn shows almost all of the space behind the north end had been filled in with just a small access passageway along the north wall.
There was a massive fire that ruined the upper floors in October of 1919. This could help explain why the vintage post card images differ so greatly from the initial artist’s rendering of the building from the grand opening.
After the fire, Harold Ripple bought the Rose Shoe Store and moved his operation there. The newspapers couldn’t figure out how he fit in a full day of work at the railroad in addition to all the time he spent operating his shoe store. The IOOF temporarily relocated to the T. F. Garner Building at Third Avenue and Chestnut Street. The Aikin Studio moved over the Hub Clothing Store on Chestnut.
The Cross Studio took over Ripple’s Shoe Market’s space in February of 1920 and then M. E. (Mack) and C. L. Hebrew bought the studio from D. A. Cross in July of 1920.
Lydia Byerley’s By-Erly Hat Shop occupied the corner with frontages on Second and Chestnut. By 1924, she had moved to a space next door in Locke’s Bargain Store.
The 1926 Sanborn shows the Kuhn Brothers Drug Co. on the south end and a courtyard against the Eckles wall on the north end.
This post card shows a completely different roofline than what was printed in the 1887 newspaper. Still a stunner! And still one cohesive structure.
The photo below is from March of 1930 and I love it for a couple reasons; The Langton-Beadle Building still looked like people cared about it plus the First National Bank Building was under construction in the background.
This 1930s post card shows the completed First National Bank prior to its first painted sign and the Langton-Beadle Building still had most of its ornamentation.
Kuhn’s Drug Store was still around in the 1930s. Dr. X. F. Alexander had an office upstairs. The frontage at 306 West Chestnut Street housed T. L. Baskett & Co. Real Estate. Stovall Studio leased 503 N Second Avenue and there was also room for L. L. Taylor Real Estate, Railroad Building Loan Co., and Lane A Dutton, Attorney.
By 1942, the Stovall Studio had become Stovall-Pfiester Studio and then simply Pfiester Studio by 1947. The studio had also moved upstairs by that time and the lower level housed the Singer Sewing Machine Co. The Tar-Jay Store and Ray Francis Plumbing & Heating were new occupants of the corner building.
Things kind of settled down in this building after a lot of turmoil. By 1953, Mi-Lady’s Shop was on the corner with Clement B Schmidt upstairs and Singer Sewing Machine Co and Pfiester Studio were still on the north end. The spot at 306 West Chestnut was either vacant or taken up by the clothing store until about 1957, which is when D. E. Lawrence & Co. (accountants) occupied the space.
This photo is really cool. You can see things had begun going sideways with half of the building painted white but at least it still had personality.
Here’s one from the Chestnut Street side, looking east. You can still see it was fancy, especially in comparison to the updated veneer on the Cochran Building across Second Avenue. If you go by the Langton-Beadle Building today, you can still make out a ghost sign on the upper brick facing west. It’s visible in the Google Street View linked below.
Speaking of Pfiester Studio, this is one of the most confusing ads I think I’ve ever seen:
In 1962, Mi-Lady’s Shop was still on the lower level of the south end with the Hostess Room upstairs and the Harman’s Barber Shop on the Wyatt Earp side. Singer Sewing Shop Co. and Pfiester Studio were still next door.
According to the Kansas Historical Society, Eckles Department Store expanded into the space at 503 N Second Avenue in 1963. That would explain how their spinoff store, One Door South, ended up in that location. But Eckles couldn’t have occupied the whole space initially because the sewing machine shop was still there in 1967 with Jack Betts as Manager. Unless they meant that Eckles bought the sewing machine shop, in which case I just need a break.
This photo taken from the old flour mill makes me a little stabby. Like, not only did the Eckles metal siding ruin everything but then it was taken a step further and that crappy mismatched brick across the top was slapped on there like they could somehow camouflage the destruction of the decorative elements. This, my fellow Americans, is a war crime.
In case you’ve been squinting at the sign in the photo above, I think that was The Piccadilly Shop and it may have preceded Second Hand Rose. It wasn’t around for very long.
Do you all remember Second Hand Rose? It was a clothing store in the spot on the corner but the clothes and accessories weren’t second-hand. I believe it was open in the late 1970s and part of the ’80s. Professional Hairdressers occupied that spot in maybe the late 1980s through the mid ’90s. If I’m thinking of the correct shop, they had a tanning bed that we used as teenagers until some Tipper Gore-esque busybodies decided minors couldn’t tan without parental permission. Ridiculous.
Olympic Village was in the north end of the building in the 1980s and it seems like The Locker Room has been there ever since but I’m sure I’m missing something in between.
In more recent years, the Parrot Palace was on the corner in the mid-2000s and Dodge City Snow Station has been there since at least 2018. Rizo’s Barber Studio had a space upstairs in 2018 but I believe they moved to the mall.
Here are some photos I took a while back from Second Avenue:
I completely flaked on the glorious ghost sign that’s still visible on the backside of the building so my mom grabbed these:
If you want to study recent changes to the building, Google’s Street View slider goes back to 2007 so you can zoom in on the before and after views of the Great Siding Debacle. Make sure you go around the corner and study the Wyatt Earp frontage as well.
I’ve mentioned Barkley’s before and it’s kind of cool to see evidence of its existence all these years later. Studying these decaying buildings provokes a sort of panic to document every single inch of them before it’s too late. I know grant money is available but the application process is confusing, time consuming, and frankly…daunting.
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