J. C. Penney Co. Then and Now

618 North Second Avenue

Lots of Dodge City locals remember when Penney’s had a store on Second Avenue. How it got there and what it looked like originally? Maybe not so much!

This was a residential neighborhood for many years. The 1887 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows a frame dwelling at what was then 817 Second Avenue. The block was renumbered around 1909 and the 1911 Sanborn shows the old and new street numbers. That house on the corner was then at 622 Second Avenue.

By the time the 1918 Sanborn came out, a tailor shop occupied the house on the corner but that structure was demolished to make way for a filling station.

The 1926 Sanborn shows the filling station at 622 Second Avenue and I believe it is partly shown in the photo below. You can see a tiny bit of the Santa Fe Trail Garage sign to the far right. Further down the block are signs for Drake’s Grocery and J. S. Rush Hardware.

Photographer Unknown

The J. C. Penney store did not move to Dodge City. It was a process. The Hub clothing store was located at 215 West Chestnut Street, one door east of Sturgeon’s Confectionery. J. B. Byars and Charles Imel continued at that spot when they bought The Hub in 1914.

Charles Imel died in January of 1917 and J. B. Byars purchased Imel’s share in the store. The new firm was J. B. Byars and Co. and he called the business the Golden Rule Store. In October of 1917, the Golden Rule moved to the northeast corner of Walnut Street and Second Avenue, where most of us remember seeing Warshaw’s Menswear. E. Marsh and H. M. Starks bought shares in the new Golden Rule Mercantile Company.

Dodge City Daily Globe, October 15, 1917

The name of the store was changed to J. B. Byars and Co. in November of 1920 with no change of ownership. At that point, the chain had 20 stores located in Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska.

By the time the J. C. Penney Company bought out Byars in 1929, there were more than 100 stores. That is an incredible growth spurt.

The Dodge City Journal, July 11, 1929

Dr. T. L. McCarty’s real estate company still owned the lots north of the *new* post office on Second Avenue and a new building was planned for J. C. Penney where the White Eagle filling station stood.

The Dodge City Journal, January 30, 1930

Unfortunately, Dr. McCarty died the same day this note was printed.

The Dodge City Journal, April 3, 1930

J. C. Penney moved into the new space around August 15, 1930.

The Dodge City Journal, August 21, 1930

The 1932 Sanborn shows JC Penney at 622 Second Avenue.

By 1937, these buildings had been renumbered and JC Penney was listed at the current address of 618 N Second Avenue.

This photo from April of 1939 facing northeast shows a bit of detail at the far left. Check out those windows!

Photographer Unknown

This post card looking south on Second Avenue clearly shows the J.C. Penney building when those giant windows were still in place.

Photographer Unknown

The building underwent an extensive remodel in 1951 and the windows were destroyed.

Photographer Unknown

We make fun of people who say they’re going to “Walmart’s” but in this case, calling the store “Penney’s” was correct.

Polk’s Dodge City (Ford County, Kansas) Directory 1953

So much optimism in this ad celebrating the Kansas Centennial!

Dodge City Daily Globe, Kansas Centennial Edition, July 1961

As you more than likely know, the brand-new Village Square Shopping Center held some pretty major grand opening events in July of 1970.

Dodge City Daily Globe, July 20, 1970

By this time, most of the Urban Renewal demolitions had been completed and the remaining businesses were bailing on downtown Dodge.

Dodge City Daily Globe, July 20, 1970

One last note on the mall location before we get back to the building at hand; Until very recently, the store exterior still boasted that old Penney’s sign. I knew I should have gotten a photo the last time I was in Dodge.

Dodge City Daily Globe, 13th Special Travelers’ Edition, 1971

It was a revolving door at the old Penney’s store for several years. Ashley’s Outlet occupied the space from about 1975 until 1977-ish.

Dodge City Daily Globe, September 4, 1975

Remember catalog stores?! Looks like Montgomery Ward had one there from 1978 until about 1981.

Dodge City Daily Globe, December 22, 1978

I had completely forgotten that Garnand Furniture had a store in Dodge. However, it only lasted at this spot from about 1981 until 1985.

Dodge City Daily Globe, January 30, 1982

There was an announcement stating the store would reopen as The Furniture Store when Garnand closed in 1985 but then it was suddenly Dodge City Furniture and Appliance.

Dodge City Daily Globe, August 9, 1985

This is kind of weird. Dodge City Furniture and Appliance had a quitting business sale in January of 1986 but we all know the store lived on for a couple more decades up on the bypass. I really don’t understand how that all transpired.

Anyway, the spot was home to Roselle’s Fabrics by at least 1990. This store existed for about 20 years and it seemed like I heard every one of their radio commercials. Remember when downtown merchants still had real sidewalk sales? It was never the same at the mall.

Dodge City Daily Globe, March 21, 1997

I’m not 100% certain when Carlos Boots opened on Second Avenue but it seems like the store was there forever. Possibly 2001-ish? The boots carried their own label and the store was pretty amazing.

I believe El Jalisciense Western Wear has been on that corner since at least 2015. Their Facebook page has quite a few photos. It’s quite a large space and they have a really good selection.

Here’s how the exterior of the building looks today:

We can all learn from this example: Never, EVER fill in the windows! The building is by no means unattractive (kinda hate the stone, though) but keeping the windows would have likely made the building eligible for grant money. Keep it as original as possible, people!

Regardless, I’m glad this building has gotten consistent use and care over the years. Having such a large building continuously occupied is a huge help to all of downtown.

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