Ida Beeson Building Then and Now

217 West Chestnut and 216 Front Street

Don’t worry…I’m not making this about the Long Branch! There’s no way I can do better than everyone else who has already written about the famous saloon. It gets a little confusing because there were multiple “Beeson Buildings” in Dodge and two of them were long, skinny buildings with storefronts on Chestnut and Front Streets. This post is about the Ida Beeson Building between First and Second Avenues.

The 1884 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map is the earliest available and it, of course, shows a long and narrow saloon at what was then 214 Front Street. There was a small building in the back at 323 Chestnut Street.

You probably already know the Long Branch burned in December of 1885. Chalk Beeson and his partner, William Harris, had gotten out of the saloon business but Chalk retained ownership of the building.

The Globe Live Stock Journal, December 15, 1885

The property owners got busy rebuilding right away. Weston and Trost were the architects and the group of buildings was called the Union Block.

The Dodge City Democrat, May 22, 1886

Isa S Richards occupied the upstairs offices on the Chestnut Street side in August of 1886.

The Globe Live Stock Journal, August 31, 1886

The United States Signal Service also moved in to the upstairs rooms along Front Street that August and G. T. Inge’s store occupied the main room on the Chestnut side.

The Dodge City Democrat, September 11, 1886

By February of 1887, the storefront on the Chestnut side was vacant and plans were in place to remodel the space for a new bank. Meanwhile, Boyer and Hobble moved their insurance and real estate office to the north basement room but they only stayed a few months.

The American State Bank of Dodge City was formed on March 25, 1887. You’re not going to believe this but the charter and articles of incorporation survived.

I love how the paper claimed Dodge had “three good and reliable banks.” I beg to differ!

The Dodge City Democrat, April 2, 1887

The Dodge City Times, April 7, 1887

The 1887 Sanborn map shows offices at 403 Front Street and the bank at 319 Chestnut Street.

In April of 1887, Wicks and Harrison moved their law office into the basement rooms on the Front Street side and were joined by realtor J. P. Erwin. Sherwood and Dickinson were offering farm loans from the main floor rooms on Front Street.

The Globe Live Stock Journal, May 17, 1887

Isa Richards moved his office in January of 1888 and the spot was occupied by County Attorney, W. E. Hendricks. Physicians Wright and Plumer also had offices in the building at that time.

In May of 1888, T. C. Owen moved his Star Barber Shop into the basement room on Front Street.

The Dodge City Times, March 28, 1889

I should note that this building was initially referred to as Chalk’s building but the property was listed in Ida’s name by August of 1888.

Many of you have seen this photo before. It seems like the date is usually given as 1890 but I believe it was taken a bit earlier.

Photographer Unknown

The American State Bank stopped being a thing in September of 1889 and the fixtures were shipped to Ingalls in January of 1890.

Western Kansas Ensign, September 20, 1889

J. S. Carson’s tailoring shop moved into a room on the Front Street side in February of 1890. He had recently moved to Dodge from Pueblo. Harry Newfer also moved a grocery into the bank’s old spot that month. Newfer, however, sold the grocery to J. M. Bell two months later.

Dodge City Democrat, April 5, 1890

The Globe-Republican, January 21, 1892

R. W. Evans bought out J. M. Bell in September of 1894 and continued at the “old stand” until he moved the store to the Wright Building in March of 1895. Mrs. M. M. Wolff and Ella Steinman moved their millinery store in the former grocery the following month.

The Globe-Republican, March 29, 1895

Wolff and Steinman moved their store to Arkansas City in March of 1897 and M. M. Gwinner moved his City (not Star) Bakery into the spot.

The Globe-Republican, March 11, 1897

In February of 1901, Gwinner sold City Bakery to Roy W Burnett.

The Globe-Republican, February 14, 1901

Gwinner then changed his mind and bought it back in August of 1901. Dentist R. W. Hellwarth established his office over the bakery in October of 1901.

The Globe-Republican, November 8, 1901

It appears the cakes and candies business was not all fun and games, though.

The Live Stock Farmer, January 5, 1904

Brothers W. A. and Ernest Sturgeon bought Gwinner’s City Bakery in November of 1906 for $8,000.

The Globe-Republican, November 22, 1906

Pioneer Barber Shop began in the 1890s. By 1909, it was owned by Will Lowman, who was married to Grace Sturgeon. This ad shows the block had been renumbered between 1905 and 1909.

The Daily Clarion, May 20, 1909

Lowman sold the shop to Charles McKenzie, who then sold it to Frank Cox in November of 1911.

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, December 1, 1911

The 1911 Sanborn shows both the old and new street numbers.

Judge B. F. Milton set up his office above Sturgeon’s in September of 1913.

The Dodge City Globe, September 18, 1913

After Chalk died, Ida moved into rooms on the second floor of the Front Street side. I’m sure she was thrilled to learn about the papered-over flue hole.

Dodge City Daily Globe, December 10, 1915

Although Ida sold the building in March of 1918, she continued living on the second floor until October of 1918.

Dodge City Daily Globe, March 30, 1917

The 1918 Sanborn shows Sturgeon’s had expanded to take up the entire first floor of the buiding.

Taylor-Sturgeon Tire Company was located at 216 Front (in the basement, I believe) from about June to November of 1920.

The Dodge City Journal, November 25, 1920

As I mentioned here, the Sturgeon family decided to focus on the Fourth Avenue bakery and closed the Chestnut location at the end of 1920. The former bakery underwent an extensive remodel and Dr. Milton D Reynolds moved his jewelry store into the spot in January of 1921.

The Dodge City Journal, January 20, 1921

Harry Grose bought the Sturgeon’s Confectionery fixtures and equipment. His wife was Minnie Sturgeon and they moved everything into the space at 216 Front Street.

The Dodge City Journal, January 20, 1921

Dr. Ernest C Main opened his chiropractic office above Reynolds Jewelry in June of 1924.

The Dodger, November 25, 1924

W. P. Childress had the American Barber Shop at 216 Front Street in August of 1924.

The Southwest News, August 21, 1924

Two months later, it was the Shorty Grubbs Barber Shop.

The Southwest News, October 23, 1924

From approximately 1926 to 1928, 216 Front Street was home to the Gents Barber Shop.

I’m not sure exactly when the ornate Victorian details were removed but they were still present in this photo from around 1930.

Photographer Unknown

The 1932 Sanborn shows the dividing wall on the first floor was once again in place.

Sometime between 1937 and 1947, Reynolds Jewelry Co. became Morgan Jewelry. The barber shop became Sunflower Barber Shop.

By 1953, Arvin Heichen Jewelers was on the Chestnut side and that was the last store to occupy the space.

Dodge City Daily Globe Kansas Centennial Edition, July 1961

The Jack Harned Barber Shop occupied the Front Street side until Schafer’s Cafe took the spot in 1960.

Polk’s Dodge City (Ford County, Kansas) Directory 1960

Schafer’s moved and was replaced by El Poche Cafe.

Dodge City Daily Globe Kansas Centennial Edition, July 1961

In this famous post card, it’s easy to see the El Poche Cafe sign two doors west of Bill’s Tavern. You can also see that the Victorian roofline had been completely erased from existence.

These photos, which were taken just prior to demolition, are just depressing. All of those insanely ornate buildings became sad and shabby.

If you stand right here and look south, you’ll be staring over the former Ida Beeson lot.

It isn’t exactly inspiring but I guess a parking lot is better than a dilapidated wreck of what once was.

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Wardrobe Cleaners Then and Now

801 North Second Avenue

Since Dodge City’s neon signs have all but vanished, I feel compelled to photograph them whenever I see them…even if the neon is long gone. I grabbed a few shots of the very cool sign at Wardrobe Cleaners a while back and didn’t give the building much thought. Then I was looking into another business and noticed an ad from 1922. I had no idea it had been around for so long!

The county website says this building was constructed in 1920 but that is impossible. In 1920, Dodge had only two laundries: Dodge City Steam Laundry on Chestnut Street and People’s Steam Laundry on Trail Street. The structure on this site in 1920 was the frame dwelling shown on this 1918 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map.

Simon R. Sprecher and Frank Palmer started “The Wardrobe” at 605 Second Avenue in early 1921.

The Dodge City Journal, January 27, 1921

That would be the building on the left in the photo below.

In 1922, the post office was on Second Avenue where the Ensueno Boutique is currently located.

The Dodge City Journal, March 9, 1922

Talk about a dangerous line of work!

I’m not sure exactly when Palmer exited the business but by May of 1924, he was working as a car salesman.

Sprecher had the current Wardrobe Cleaners location built in 1928 and it included a fur storage vault in the basement. I think it’s awesome that the slogan “We Know How” survived and is still on the sign out front. You’ll also notice the same logo was still being used in the 1960s.

The Dodge City Journal, July 4, 1929

Clearly, the current sign is not the original.

The Catholic Advance, February 21, 1931

The 1932 Sanborn shows storefronts along Second Avenue with the dry cleaner frontage on Vine Street.

Lawrence W Anderson (formerly of Skillington Tailoring Company) bought the business around 1937 and it became known as Anderson’s Wardrobe Cleaners. He also owned Anderson Cleaners at 306 West Chestnut Street. If I understand correctly, he was married to Leona Kliesen.

The Catholic Advance, July 9, 1938

The photo below was taken during the parade for the world premiere of “Dodge City” on April 1, 1939. Unfortunately, the flag is blocking the view but you can still see a good portion of the sign.

Photo by Frank Locke

This full-page ad celebrating the end of World War II is epic.

Dodge City Daily Globe, October 20, 1945

Leona’s siblings, Laurence E “Bud” Kliesen and Lucyle (Kliesen) Day, bought the business in the early 1950s and it was owned by various members of the Kliesen family for more than 30 years. Let’s see if I understand this all correctly! Bud died in 1960 and Kathryn (Kliesen) White bought his share. After Lucyle died in 1962, Katie and her husband, Norval, bought her share as well.

Polk’s Dodge City (Ford County, Kansas) Directory 1962

Katie famously cleaned law enforcement uniforms at no charge as well as the local nuns’ habits. Their son, Laurence “Buddy” White, worked at the shop for about 20 years.

Photo courtesy Katie White-Majerus

Some of you may remember a model church being displayed in the window of the store.

The Advance Register, January 12, 1951

This story is about W. P. Kliesen, the architect who designed the church, and I am including the full newspaper article referenced in the story below.

Katie sold the business to C. W. Edwards, who owned it for several years before selling to Henry Burge. Today, the business is Jamie’s Wardrobe Cleaners. It’s awesome to see a building still serving the same purpose with nearly the exact same name for almost 100 years.

Special thanks to Katie’s granddaughter and my classmate, Katie White-Majerus, and her family for filling in the blanks for this story. Any mistakes or misunderstandings of the relationships or timeline are 100 percent mine!

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Merchants State Bank Debacle, Part III

407 N Second Avenue

Part I covered the five-year timeline of the Merchants State Bank. Part II covered the fallout. Now it’s time to talk about the building itself. As mentioned previously, this Victorian beauty was built in 1886.

The 1892 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the McCarty Block pictured above with addresses of 714 and 715 Second Avenue. This was prior to the staggered odd and even street numbers.

While George Hoover was winding down the process of foreclosing on properties so creditors could be repaid, his wife was selling flowers and sometimes pants in the bank building.

The Globe-Republican, March 31, 1892

George R Cochran also set up a crop insurance office there.

The Globe-Republican, May 23, 1892

The final payments to creditors were made in January of 1894 at which time Hoover, R. W. Evans, and E. F. Kellogg opened a new bank in the old Merchants State Bank building.

The Globe-Republican, January 12, 1894

Kellogg, who had worked at First National Bank, was the Cashier. The starting capital was $6,000 – much more modest than the $50,000 claimed by the Merchants State Bank. This new private bank was called Bank of Dodge City.

The Globe-Republican, May 11, 1894

Things then became very boring! After four years of nothingburgers, the bank went public. State Bank of Dodge City was formed on December 6, 1898.

Ford County Leader, December 9, 1898

You can just barely make out “STATE BANK OF DODGE CITY” on the south end of the building in the post card below.

Richard Evans, Jr. opened a law office on the second floor in November of 1904. A. B. Reeves also had a law office up there as early as May of 1909. E. F. Kellogg suffered a stroke and died the following month and was replaced by W. B. Wolfe.

Photographer Unknown

The 1911 Sanborn Map shows the block had been renumbered and the bank’s new street address was 407 Second Avenue.

1919 was when things got weird. I was unable to find any information about why the building needed to be replaced. It was less than 35 years old and I never found any indication it had been damaged by fire or had any other significant issues. Maybe it was just viewed as being dated.

The Dodge City Journal, March 6, 1919

The bank was open for business in the old post office building next door by mid-April and the new building was ready by the end of 1919.

The front of the new structure was covered with white tile, which I’m sure many of you will recognize. It doesn’t look like a two-story structure when compared to the extremely tall post office building but later photos better show its height.

I guess you just had to see those copper curtains in person. Perhaps the word “artistic” was used because they were less than attractive.

The Dodge City Journal, August 5, 1920

State Bank of Dodge City and Southwest National Bank merged in September of 1922. Southwest National had been right next door in the old post office building. Operations were continued in the State Bank building.

The Dodge City Journal, September 7, 1922

The photo below was taken in 1925. You can see the old post office still looked like a Victorian building at that time.

Photographer Unknown

This photo was taken in March of 1930 and something terrible had happened to the old post office. Suddenly, it resembled a brick shoe box.

Photographer Unknown

State Bank of Dodge City was merged out of existence in January of 1933 when it was combined with Kansas State Bank to form Fidelity State Bank. Operations were consolidated at the current Fidelity building located at Second Avenue and Walnut/Gunsmoke Street.

The Hutchinson News, January 3, 1933

Here’s another familiar name! By June of 1933, the W. A. Layton Land and Investment Company was located at 407 Second Avenue.

Opportunity, June 1, 1933

By 1937, Layton’s land company shared the building with Dodge City Shoe and Hat Shop and White Star Taxi. But it was the next occupant most of you will recognize.

1947 City Directory and Business and Professional Guide for Dodge City, Kansas

Lester’s son, David, bought the agency in 1963. Butler Insurance Agency was in that location for more than 20 years.

Photo by Hoover Cott

This photo was taken right before the Urban Renewal Project demolition. It clearly shows there was room for a second floor even though it still looks short next to its neighbor.

Photo by Joleen Fromm

The old Merchants State Bank building was located just west of El Capitan stands today. More specifically, it would have been across from the north end of the statue’s base.

You can play with the Google Street View to change the perspective and see where it was in relationship to the remaining structures when Second Avenue was a through-street. I’m really interested to see how everything looks once the new streetscape project is completed.

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Merchants State Bank Debacle, Part II

In Part I, I laid out the timeline for the brief existence of the Merchants State Bank. In this post, I’ll present detailed facts and figures but also the narratives. I get that not everyone does accounting (or has any interest in it) so I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible.

Keep in mind the editorials were mostly about politics so the relevant newspapers were The Globe-Republican, The Dodge City Democrat, and The Dodge City Times. George Cox was a Democrat who had also been supported by the Times. He was also Ford County Treasurer at the time the bank failed.

The bank had been in trouble for a while but it was a bounced check drawn on the City of Dodge City’s account which was the proximate cause of the failure. Either that or…you know…the lack of *any* money in the vault.

The second tile of this piece in The Globe-Republican includes the words “criminal carelessness.” You may be wondering why this all falls at George Cox’s feet. He made the mistake of securing Langton’s loan for the hardware store. So when Langton failed, Cox was on the hook for the note. He began making the monthly payments from his personal funds but that was unsustainable.

I don’t want to belabor the point too much but Cox was not just the Ford County Treasurer. Other organizations also trusted him with their money. And you will note the address for James Langton is listed as “unknown.” The Union Town Company represented the merger between the towns of Ryansville and Ford. You will also note “City Treasurer” and “Treas. Dist. No. 16.” A metric buttload of public funds was on deposit at Merchants State Bank.

The Dodge City Times, March 6, 1891

George M Hoover was appointed assignee and it was reported even then that Hoover intended to reorganize the bank once everything was settled.

The Dodge City Times, March 20, 1891

Of the $31,726.56 owed, $24,261.46 belonged to taxpayers in Dodge City and Ford County. That’s freaking huge…potentially catastrophic. The problem was the bank was loaning money against those deposits and those loans were essentially unsecured.

The Dodge City Democrat, March 28, 1891

While Langton had left town and washed his hands of the mess, Cox stayed and tried to make things right. Since he was Langton’s security, all of his property was fair game.

The Dodge City Democrat, March 28, 1891

Somehow, Cox was still County Treasurer as all this was taking place. The shenanigans precipitated an audit of Ford County finances from its inception through April 23, 1891.

If you ever wonder why people preach about segregation of duties, allow me to present Exhibit A:

The Dodge City Democrat, May 16, 1891

So everyone was asking about the bond. In light of the circumstances, I think Cox probably wanted it to stay lost. This editorial is pretty hard-core.

And then these “facts” in the same issue:

I should probably note here that W. C. Shinn was the assistant editor and manager of The Globe-Republican at this time. You may recall, Shinn was Secretary of the bank when it was first organized.

The Globe-Republican published Cox’s response on the same page:

And here’s how the Democrat framed the issue:

As assignee, Hoover set about collecting from the all of the loan guarantors via sheriff’s sales and those legal notices ran for a couple years after the bank closed. Why didn’t they just sell the building? I really don’t know why that wasn’t an option as the failure became imminent. The building was finally put up for sale along with all other bank-owned property in December of 1893.

The Globe-Republican, November 17, 1893

And here’s how that went:

It’s really unfortunate that depositors only received about 15 percent of their money back (rather than the 10 percent initially reported) but I guess it’s better than nothing.

Initially, I thought George Cox was simply a good guy who had difficulty saying no to people. I thought he was straight up conned by James Langton, who was a reckless speculator. But if you go all the way back to the bond, you can see he had to have known. There’s no way he couldn’t have known. Maybe he thought they could pull it off and no one would know the difference. Later, it was alleged that Cox’s deputy treasurer, Otto Mueller, was the diabolical brains behind the operation. Regardless, this mess was entirely preventable with simple internal controls.

Next time, I’ll look at the building itself as well as the occupants up until demolition during the Urban Renewal Project.

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Merchants State Bank Debacle, Part I

This time, I’m going to switch things up a bit and profile a business rather than a building. I alluded to the drama surrounding the Merchants State Bank here and here. The failure of this bank ruined several men financially and nearly bankrupted Ford County. It’s a long story involving a lot of names you will recognize so I’m breaking it up into a few parts.

First of all, let me just say this ad right here says all you need to know about James Langton:

The Ryansville Boomer, January 1, 1886

The brief history of Ryansville, Kansas was quite dramatic and Langton was in the thick of it. But that’s another story for another day.

Merchants State Bank was organized on February 18, 1886 by some very prominent men in Dodge City…and also James Langton. I should note that the State of Kansas shows the official date of the bank’s formation was March 8, 1886.

The Dodge City Democrat, February 20, 1886

$50,000 was a massive amount of capital in 1886 – the equivalent of more than $1.5 million in 2023. But that didn’t mean they had actually *raised* $50K! I can assure you they had not.

Dr. T. L. McCarty commissioned an architect by the name of Weston to design the new bank building and plans were ready in April of 1886. It was to be a two-story brick structure measuring 25 x 50 feet adjoining the Post Office.

The bank officially opened in its temporary quarters on April 15, 1886 and took in a whopping $10,000 in deposits the very first day.

The Sun, April 22, 1886

On May 20, 1886, many of the same players organized the Monarch Mortgage and Bond Company of Dodge City. This entity set up shop right next door to the bank with J. P. Brown in charge.

The Dodge City Democrat, June 12, 1886

The bank moved into its permanent location at the southwest corner of Second Avenue and Chestnut Street in August of 1886. The 1887 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the bank with frontage at what was then 714 Second Avenue.

The Dodge City Times, February 10, 1887

Langton *definitely* needed to pay more attention to the hardware business, considering it was mortgaged to the hilt. More on that fine mess later.

Ford County Republican, March 16, 1887

Langton was also Treasurer of Dodge City’s public schools at this time. By June of 1887, Charles Martin had replaced Langton as Cashier but Langton was still on the Board of Directors.

I don’t know exactly when it became known around town that Merchants State Bank was offering risky loans to officers of the bank and their friends. Langton alone was into the bank for $8,000! That’s more than $251,000 in 2023 dollars.

Dodge City Democrat, July 30, 1887

In July of 1887, the bank paid Dr. McCarty $20,000 for the lot which included the post office and bank buildings. I find it interesting that neither the Journal nor the Globe nor the Times pointed out that McCarty was still on the bank’s Board of Directors. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but it was certainly relevant. The purchase was also an enormous mistake.

The Globe Live Stock Journal, August 2, 1887

By mid-November, Langton’s name stopped appearing in the Merchants State Bank newspaper ads. Here’s where the bank’s finances reportedly stood as of January 26, 1888.

Dodge City Democrat, February 4, 1888

I don’t want to make Langton out to be a super villain but he was also Treasurer of the Bloom town company. From what I can tell, he owed money on various properties to people all over Ford County, including Carrie Rath. The lawsuits started pouring in but he had opened a hardware store in Monte Vista, Colorado and it appears he left several people in the lurch. Unfortunately, the bank was forced to foreclose on the Langton Hardware Store in August of 1888 and that caused a serious financial ripple effect in Dodge.

Times-Democrat, September 6, 1888

George Cox shipped the remaining merchandise to Oklahoma where he also shipped his drug store. Cox had been elected Ford County Treasurer in November of 1887 but didn’t take office until October of 1888. I don’t fully understand all of the particulars but R. M. Wright’s term didn’t expire until October and I guess Cox was Treasurer-elect all those months because of the election cycle. Seems weird, but whatever.

The Dodge City Times, January 17, 1889

George Cox announced his candidacy for reelection in August of 1889 and was heartily endorsed by The Dodge City Times. He won again.

The Dodge City Times, August 22, 1889

Cashier Charles Martin moved to Washington at the beginning of 1890 and was replaced by J. W. Guynn of Ingalls.

The Globe-Republican, January 8, 1890

Merchants State Bank was included in this lawsuit against Langton Hardware in July of 1890.

The Dodge City Times, July 25, 1890

By October of 1890, there were concerns about Cox’s handling of some tax bills but nothing was officially recorded. And then this happened. Weird, huh!

The Globe-Republican, November 26, 1890

Cashier Guynn left for Pueblo in January of 1891 and was replaced by E. E. Smith. I’m thinking Smith may have had regrets.

The Dodge City Times, January 9, 1891

Merchants State Bank closed its doors nine days after its fifth anniversary on February 27, 1891 and the Democrat specifically referenced Cox’s failure.

The Dodge City Democrat, February 28, 1891

Next time, I’ll dig into how exactly this all transpired and will present a series of dueling narratives via newspaper editorials. Mud was being slung in every direction. I’ll also explain what that last sentence about school districts and townships losing meant in real terms.

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Mullin Furniture Then and Now

601 North Second Avenue

This is one of those downtown buildings which had been absolutely ravaged by “modernists” and tortured into submission. It served the same purpose for about 100 years and has recently made a glorious comeback.

The 1887 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map is the earliest available to show this lot. At that time, a wood frame millinery store was located at the northwest corner of Walnut Street and Second Avenue. The street address was 723 Second Avenue. That block was renumbered by 1892 and the structure, then at 721 Second Avenue, reverted to a dwelling.

Clyde Zimmerman and a gentleman with the last name of Hayes opened a furniture store across the street at the southwest corner of Second Avenue and Walnut Street in March of 1904.

The Dodge City Democrat, February 19, 1904

Hayes retired the following month and Zimmerman continued the business. The store was sometimes referred to as Zimmerman Furniture but the name that stuck was City Furniture Store.

The Dodge City Democrat, January 6, 1905

The county website says the current structure was built in 1900 but the 1905 Sanborn shows the same frame structure listed as a plumbing business. You can see the furniture store across Walnut where the Eckles Building is now.

By March of 1906, City Furniture was apparently operated by the new partnership Zimmerman between and Keplinger but I never found another reference to a Keplinger being associated with the store.

The Journal-Democrat, March 23, 1906

Thomas H Traynor and George B Doolittle bought the lot on the northwest corner for $3,500 in July of 1906. Traynor bought an interest in City Furniture in August of 1906 and it appears Doolittle had done the same but I wasn’t able to find the announcement. Clyde Zimmerman continued his undertaking business, which was associated with City Furniture and continued advertising for Clyde Zimmerman & Co separately well into 1907.

Construction of the new furniture store on the northwest corner began in the spring of 1907.

The Globe-Republican, March 14, 1907

Doolittle and Traynor successfully bid for the new Post Office location, which was to occupy the corner room of the new building. The furniture store was to take up the north room on the main floor plus the entire basement and second floor. They expected to occupy the new quarters by July 1 but of course, construction was delayed.

George Doolittle had suffered a paralytic stroke in May of 1907 and W. J. Davies bought out his interest in the store in August.

The Globe-Republican, September 5, 1907

The building was finally ready for occupancy around the first part of September.

The giant painted sign that wrapped around the south and east sides of the building was added in November of 1907.

The Journal-Democrat, January 17, 1908

Jerome Daniel Mullin, formerly of Walnut, accepted a funeral director position at City Furniture in 1908 after Clyde Zimmerman resigned to become the funeral director at Fort Dodge. Mullin was also a licensed embalmer and former teacher who moved to Ford County in 1903 to help his older sister with her homestead about 11 miles southeast of Dodge.

Sometime around the end of 1910 or beginning of 1911, Traynor directed his attention toward his restaurant leaving Davies and Mullin to operate the store.

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, April 21, 1911

The block was renumbered again and the 1911 Sanborn shows the furniture store at 601 Second Avenue.

Traynor had relocated to Oregon but returned in early 1912, at which time he became active in store operations once again. I believe this was about the time Mullin had moved away from Dodge the first time, which left Davies as the sole undertaker.

S. H. Herrin announced he was buying the store in February of 1916 and the sale was finalized in April. Herrin did not purchase the building at this time. The Post Office had already outgrown its space and was preparing to move to the new building on the east side of Second Avenue.

Dodge City Daily Globe, February 15, 1916

J. D. Mullin had returned to City Furniture by this time. Traynor and Davies had also stuck around to ensure a smooth transition.

The Dodge City Daily Globe, June 7, 1916

By November of 1916, the Post Office had moved into the new building on Second Avenue and the partition on the main floor of the furniture building had been removed to accommodate the store’s expansion.

In June of 1918, J. D. Mullin moved away from Dodge again, this time to Omaha, to work as a traveling salesman for the Beebe and Runyon Furniture Company.

Herrin finally purchased the City Furniture building in August of 1921 and made way for The Dodge City Music Company to occupy the south half.

Brothers Maurice and J. D. Mullin bought City Furniture at the end of 1924 and had their grand opening in March of 1925.

The Southwest News, March 12, 1925

They immediately got to work updating the storefronts for the furniture and music stores.

The Southwest News, May 7, 1925

The 1926 Sanborn shows other stores carved out of the north end of the building. An elevator was installed in 1928.

The Dodge City Journal, June 27, 1929

Take a look at this glorious ad! You will notice the photo of Austin C Fowler was included as one of the “courteous young folks” employed at Mullin Bros. It’s all coming together now.

Dodge City Journal, January 1, 1930

A second location was added at 609 West Chestnut Street in the summer of 1930.

The Dodge City Journal, May 29, 1930

After Dodge City Music Company vacated their space, the furniture store was remodeled again with a new mezzanine level and double the floor space.

The Dodge City Journal, November 6, 1930

The 1932 Sanborn shows the newly added building to the west, which I wrote about here.

Around this time, the store became known as Mullin Furniture Company. In March of 1937, the Mullin brothers leased the T. L. Gray furniture store building in Liberal and opened up shop with Homer Hopkins as Manager. By 1938, there was also a store in Kinsley.

The Catholic Advance, July 9, 1938

The photo below was taken during the parade for the world premiere of “Dodge City” on April 1, 1939.

Photographer Unknown

By 1939, the Mullin brothers had added a location in Meade and then in Great Bend and Larned by 1940. Mullin Furniture, Inc. was formed on December 27, 1946.

Dodge City’s Diamond Jubilee Souvenir, 1947, Published by the Dodge City Chamber of Commerce

Austin Fowler started Fowler Furniture in 1948, the same year that J. D. Mullin died. By that time, Mullin Furniture had stores in Pratt and Lamar, Colorado with Maurice as President of the company.

The Advance Register, September 7, 1951

In the early 1950s, R. Wells was listed as Vice President of Mullin Furniture. I believe this was Rene Wells, who later founded Wells Discount Furniture. Maurice and J. D.’s widow, Olive, both had residential listings at 605 1/2 North Second Avenue during this time. That would be the building directly north of the original store. Olive stayed there for quite a while but Maurice and his wife, Lula, relocated to 800 Central Avenue by 1955. That’s the place with the super cute cottages behind it at the Corner of Central and Vine.

The Advance Register, January 27, 1961

Maurice retired in the early 1960s. Fowler Furniture moved into the spot at Second and Gunsmoke after the fire at their store at 309 West Wyatt Earp Boulevard in 1964. The Mullin family retained ownership of the corner building as well as the adjacent structures to the west on Gunsmoke and to the north on Second. I’m blaming the Fowler family for adding the infamous metal slipcover.

It’s impossible for me to untangle all of the various entities here but Wells-Robinson Furniture, Inc. was formed on February 23, 1959. There were different store names in different towns.

Great Bend Sunday Tribune, April 4, 1971

There was a time when you could shop for furniture from the door just east of the Fidelity drive-through branch all the way to Second Avenue. Wells Discount Furniture was one of the entities with frontage on Gunsmoke.

That’s Jack!

Austin Fowler died in 1977. Leonard and his wife, Dori, became the faces of Fowler’s but Austin’s widow, Allie was still involved as well as Leonard’s son, Paul.

Garden City Telegram, August 8, 1977

Fowler Furniture Company, Inc. was formed on December 29, 1980. Articles of incorporation showed Leonard, Dori, and Paul as officers.

Photo by Troy Robinson

Entities merged and dissolved over time. Robinson Discount Furniture was formed on August 9, 1985 by Greg Hahn and was formerly Hahn Discount Furniture in Garden. The last annual report for Fowler’s was filed in December of 1994 but it seems like the store was open for a while after that.

After Fowler’s closed, Robinson’s took over the space and they stayed until the mid-2000s when they moved to a new spot on the bypass. The building at Second and Gunsmoke was left vacant for some time.

The Google Street View images go back to October of 2007, when the building was vacant but the Robinson’s sign was still hanging on the corner and the windows hadn’t been reinstalled. Interestingly, the awful metal slipcover was removed from this building before the same was done with the Eckles building across the street.

By 2012, the empty showroom windows had been covered up with storyboards. By 2018, the building had been renamed West Coast Plaza and housed several businesses but the upstairs windows were still covered. I believe this is when the Mullin Brothers Foundation finally sold the building.

The West Coast Plaza was remodeled in 2020 and it looks so good!

West Coast Plaza Property Management has interior photos on their Facebook page and I’m a big fan. You can also see the interior of the martial arts studio here. This building was in such bad shape just a few short years ago. It’s wonderful to see a place with such history receiving the care it deserves.

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Rhinehart Building Then and Now

200 N Second Avenue

I always assumed this building was car-related but had absolutely no idea about its history. Then I took a photo of a Smurf building and wondered how it got that way. It turns out there was a series of wood frame buildings at the southeast corner of Bridge/Second Avenue and Locust/Santa Fe Trail Streets going back to at least 1884.

The 1884 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows a second-hand store on this lot with frontage at 407 Locust Street. There was a lot of renumbering going on in Dodge City at that time and by 1887, the corner was home to a hardware and implement store with a new address of 301 Locust.

The 1892 Sanborn shows a grain warehouse at 301 Locust and by 1899 the lot was empty. It stayed that way until sometime between 1905 and 1911. The Ford County website says the current structure was built in 1910, which is impossible.

The 1911 Sanborn shows a frame shed at 219 Santa Fe Trail with the Second Ave side numbered 208. There was no other structure on the 200 block of Second Avenue. By 1918, the lot was once again empty and no address was listed.

In May of 1922, W. F. (not H. F.) Rhinehart of Howell, Rhinehart and Company began construction on a brick building taking up all of lots 19 and 20 in the 200 block of Second Avenue.

The Dodge City Journal, May 18, 1922

Homer Graves moved his car dealership to the Rhinehart Building in August of 1922. He had previously been associated with the City Garage at Central and Chestnut.

The Dodge City Journal, August 24, 1922

J. J. and Ray Weigel bought Graves Motor Company in April of 1923. Homer Graves was suffering from poor health and planned to retire in California.

The Dodge City Journal, April 5, 1923

Sutton Chevrolet moved into the spot at 206 Second Avenue in February of 1924.

The Dodge City Journal, February 14, 1924

The Dodge City Journal, May 22, 1924

White Eagle Oil Co. was supposed to open a service station on the corner but it appears John Carson had an auction house located there initially. The auction house moved to 419 West Chestnut in March of 1925.

The Southwest News, March 19, 1925

It didn’t take long for W. F. Rhinehart to add on to the east end of the building. Sutton Chevrolet had outgrown its old showroom and moved into the new addition. If it isn’t clear, Santa Fe Street was actually Santa Fe Trail.

The Southwest News, March 26, 1925

C. F. Bryan opened a grocery store at 204 Second Avenue in June of 1925.

The Southwest News, June 18, 1925

McCarthy Auto Supply moved into the old Sutton space in September.

The Southwest News, September 3, 1925

The addresses for this building are extremely confusing. In addition to the newspaper typos, someone seemed to have been inventing street numbers. You’ll see what I mean further down.

The Southwest News, September 24, 1925

It didn’t take long for Sutton Chevrolet to move to Military Avenue. And this is where things get weird. In 1926, Dodge City Motor Company was in the old Sutton Chevrolet spot at 213 W Trail Street. What’s confusing about that? I’m glad you asked. I read a story published in 1954 that said Dodge City Motor Company opened at their (then current) location at 200 Second Avenue in 1944. But Dodge City Motor Company existed in 1910! Carl Fay went to work there as a mechanic that year! So unless it was a completely new entity with the same old name, that story completely missed the mark.

The 1926 Sanborn shows an L-shaped brick building with frontages at 206 Second Avenue and 217 Trail Street cuddled up against a mostly wood frame filling station on the corner. You can also see the new addition to the east, which filled in lots 17 and 18. The street numbers stopped at 208 Second Avenue and 219 Trail Street. Unfortunately, the maps shows filling stations on both sides of Second and businesses didn’t regularly list street addresses in their ads. I believe the station on the west side of Second was a Standard but I really have no idea about the east side during the ’20s.

The 1932 Sanborn shows the same configuration of the two adjoining structures. Just as a side note, see the rail siding in the middle of Maple? If you scroll down to the Google satellite view, you can still see where it was paved over.

Any. Whey. In 1937, Clinton Service Station was at 208 Second Avenue. Glenn Rexroad, who had moved to Dodge in 1923 to work in the Weigel Brothers garage, had a garage attached to the Williams Motor Sales Company at 200-202 Second and the spot at 204 Second was occupied by the Earl Smith Café.

By 1947, Dodge City Motor Company was listed at 200 Second and apparently took up the east building as well. Baird’s Café had taken over the spot at 204. And I *think* the filling station on our corner was a Clarence Fetter 66.

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

It’s so weird but this station was repeatedly listed at 210 Second, which was not a thing. The flour mill was at 300. It hurts my brain.

Farm Directory 1st Edition, Issued 1948, Ford-Gray Counties, Kansas

By 1953, Ensminger’s Air Conditioning & Heating Co. had moved into the spot at 213 West Trail Street.

Polk’s Dodge City (Ford County, Kansas) Directory 1955

Back to 1954, when Dodge City Motor Company was owned by Cecil and Eddie Doll (Liberal) and Ray Sellers (Dodge City). There were also dealerships in Meade, Minneola, Spearville, Protection, Cimarron, and Beaver, Oklahoma. Also, that section of Second Avenue had two lanes of brick with on-street parking!

The Counselor, September Issue, 1954

By 1956 or ’57, Dodge City Motor Company had moved basically to the opposite street corner and morphed into Sellers Motors. Good grief, there were so many dealers in Dodge during this time I don’t know how anyone could keep them straight. Why so many *Plymouth* dealers? The parts of the Rhinehart building that had housed the dealership were vacant. 204 Second Avenue had become home to Orkin Exterminating Co, Inc.

The aerial photo below shows the filling station had been filled in and you can see the addition on the east end of the building.

Photographer Unknown

And here’s a close-up that shows how tight the corner used to be. Second Avenue still had diagonal parking at that time.

Photo by Hoover Cott

By 1959, Crum Oil Co. had taken over 210 Second Avenue, which still didn’t exist. Besides Ensminger’s and Orkin, the rest of the big building was vacant. In 1960, only Ensminger’s was operational. Things were looking up a bit in 1961, however. Barnes Appliance Service had taken over the spot at 204 and Davis Motorcycle Sales & Service was in the old filling station.

Dodge City Daily Globe Kansas Centennial Special Edition, July 1961

There were a lot of changes over the next year, though, and the Harley shop was replaced by Cool-Temp Awning and Window Company.

Garden City Telegram, April 12, 1963

Dodge City Automotive Supply, Inc. was formed on October 31, 1962 and set up shop in the space at 200-202 Second. That basically gets us into the configuration we remember. In the flood photo below, you can see the Westinghouse logo on the sign for the appliance store.

Photo by Art Morenus

I believe there was a fire at Barnes Appliance Service in August of 1966 that caused extensive damage in that part of the building and after that it was all Dodge City Automotive Supply on Second. Brown Manufacturing Co. and Brown Tent and Awning had the Trail Street side. Dodge City Music Co. occupied the old filling station on the corner until the early 1970s when they moved to 213 West Trail.

But remember how tight that corner was? How many times did you back up at the light for semis trying to turn east on Trail while you were waiting to turn south on Second?! I remember being shocked when the old filling station disappeared and Trail was widened. The visibility was amazing all of a sudden.

Dodge City Automotive Parts, Inc. was formed on January 4, 1984. Somewhere along the line, Dodge City Automotive became a NAPA.

The Hays Daily News, June 3, 2002

The NAPA people painted the brick Smurf blue. Most of the windows were removed. It wasn’t a great look. Then NAPA built a new store just to the south and the original Rhinehart Building was apparently used for storage.

You can see from the Ford County GIS map that the current parcel is pretty huge. I’m not sure if both buildings were always considered one parcel or if that was changed over time. It’s really easy to tell from this view how the intersection was improved with the widening project.

Click here to see the Google Street View. You may have noticed on the Sanborn maps that there were rail sidings on Maple Street and the alleyway to the south of Fairmount Creamery. The Google satellite layer below still shows where the sidings were paved over.

This is all that is left of the original structure. It’s really obvious where the storefront entrances had been. The building was never what one would consider ornate but it does have some cool details.

Clearly, I took that photo before it was painted purple and black. Paws and Claws now occupies the building and I’m glad it’s being used. This is what happens when you look at a building and begin to wonder…

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Royse Building Then and Now

100 Military Avenue

This is a building I’ve never thought much about. Everyone knows it’s an old Montgomery Ward that was remodeled into commercial office space. I had no idea it’s actually two buildings, built five years apart, and veneered to look like a single structure.

The early history of this property is very confusing. The 1887 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows an empty lot at 101 Military and a large frame dwelling next door at 102, before the City standardized with odd and even addresses on opposite sides of the street. There are no notations about it being condemned.

The 1892 Sanborn also has an empty lot but now there’s a note that says “strip condemned from Railroad Avenue.” So weird! The empty lot still shows condemned on the 1899 Sanborn but then a house was built there! And it still said condemned for years! The frame dwelling at 101 seemed to be very large with a fancy rounded wall on the west. The same dwelling remained at 102.

So the 1905 Sanborn shows the whole lot condemned from Railroad/Central. The address was still 101 Military then and the same dwelling was next door at 102. The 1911 Sanborn shows a condemned strip along Railroad but it isn’t written over the house like the 1918 map. The block had been renumbered making the address 100 Military. It looks like a garage was added behind the house. The house next door is listed as 104…maybe because the lots were so big. There is no 102 on this map.

Why am I harping on this? The March 1914 obituary for Mrs. G. M. Hoover listed her address as 100 Military, which is impossible because it said the Hoovers had lived there for decades. It must have been the house next door? George then died in July of 1914 and all the articles listed 100 Military also. So bizarre. The household and personal effects were sold at public auction and the location was 100 Military. 104 was also advertised as a rooming house but I didn’t find a connection to the Hoover name. I don’t get it.

The 1918 Sanborn shows a condemned house at 100 Military and it looks like the one at 104 had been remodeled. But really, that lot had been marked as condemned for so long, who knows what kind of condition the house was really in at that time.

The county website says the current structure at 100 Military was built in 1925. I initially thought that could actually be correct! Except it says the *whole building* was constructed in 1925, which is obviously wrong. B.R. Royse (who held a patent for a lidless teapot) had the first piece built in the Spring of 1925.

Once they got started, things progressed very quickly.

The builder was J. N. Parham and his company also did the excavation. Concrete was all poured for the floors by September of 1925. The photo below appears to show the Royse Building under construction just to the left of the O’Neal Hotel.

Photographer Unknown

The Superior Garage was up and running by December of 1925 and managed by B. R.’s son, Chester. Small town side note: In September of 1918, C. F. Royse bought out T. H. Traynor’s interest in City Garage (formerly Hale & Son). So then it was Fay & Royse.

Carl Fay (former manager at City Garage) and C. E. Williams (of the McCoy Garage) teamed up with an Overland dealership and garage that advertised 24-hour service! This was probably because it was also a storage facility. Fay & Williams moved into the Royse building in late December or early January of 1926.

The Southwest News, February 25, 1926

The 1926 Sanborn shows one garage at 100 Military and the same old frame dwelling next door at 104. I can’t get over the shape! I totally understand maximizing your square footage but yikes with the geometry.

By 1929, the operation was the Carl Fay Motor Company.

The Dodge City Journal, August 8, 1929

Around 1930, the building appeared to have been occupied by Continental Oil Company. The 1932 Sanborn shows two garages covering both lots with the first floor of the new addition built in 1930.

By 1937, Schneider Super Service Company was located at 100 Military and Combs Automotive was in the adjoining building at 106. In 1939, the filling station was a Palmers Conoco. By 1947, Muncy-Snell Motor Company occupied the space at 100 Military, Combs Automotive was still at 106, and American Legion Post No. 47 was at 108. I read somewhere that Montgomery Ward leased 100 Military Avenue in 1947 but this is confusing, as there were other businesses still operating in that space through the early 1950s.

Dodge City’s Diamond Jubilee Souvenir Program, 1947, Published by the Dodge City Chamber of Commerce

By 1953, Hart Oil Company was located at 100 Military but Montgomery Ward had taken over the west end of the building by 1955. The city directories are kind of confusing because they listed the spot as Montgomery Ward Warehouse and that was likely partially true but it was also their tire and auto shop. The main Montgomery Ward store remained at First and Walnut during this time.

The photo below was taken before the second story was added to Combs Automotive.

Photo courtesy Kansas Heritage Center

It looks like the second floor was added sometime between 1955 and 1961.

Dodge City Daily Globe, Kansas Centennial Special Edition, July 1961

Imagine thinking this was a good idea. If anyone reading this actually used one of these or knows anyone who did, PLEASE (I’m begging you), leave me a comment. I need to know how it went.

Great Bend Daily Tribune, October 18, 1963

B. R. Royse had died in 1950 at the age of 91 and his estate sold the building to Hubert and Frank Piland in 1965. I found a brief newspaper reference to the “new” Montgomery Ward store in July of 1965 so they must have moved everything from Walnut/Gunsmoke by that time.

Photo by Troy Robinson

By 1967, Combs Automotive had moved to 520 West Trail Street and Montgomery Ward (managed by Troy Compton) occupied both buildings. According to the Kansas Historical Society, the building was given an overall design change around 1970. In the aerial photo below, you can see two distinct roofs but a unified exterior appearance.

Photo by Art Morenus

Montgomery Ward didn’t make it past the 1970s. I found a reference to the buildings being remodeled and rebranded as 100 Military Plaza around 1980 and I didn’t think that could possibly be correct. But then I saw this masterpiece: Ranch. Oak.

Garden City Telegram, April 14, 1980

The photo below shows how I remember Military Plaza in my mind’s eye.

Photo by Troy Robinson

The parking structure was apparently added around 1987. Since the combined buildings became 100 Military Plaza, it has housed attorneys, accountants, brokers, nonprofits, government agencies, et cetera and so on.

The block was surveyed by A-Z Land Surveying in September of 2001 and the whole document package is available here. The shape of the building is so bizarre. I can only imagine what a nightmare it was for the people tasked with installing the current blonde brick veneer.

When you enter the building now, it’s impossible to detect its 1920s origins.

Photo by Norman Holladay

If you look at the satellite view from Google Maps, it’s pretty obvious from just looking at the roof that the structures weren’t built at the same time. And that the west end did not make a rectangle!

The Street View goes back to 2007 so you can take a trip around the block and see the Central and Spruce views as well.

All of this because I saw an old newspaper ad and was curious about what the heck building that could have been. I seriously just assumed my entire life that Montgomery Ward *built* Military Plaza when they outgrew the original store. Coming soon is a story about the evolution of early Dodge City auto dealers that includes some of the same names.

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Rath Theater Then and Now

205 West Chestnut Street / Wyatt Earp Boulevard

I’ve seen a ton of ads for the Rath Theater while looking for other things but I never paid attention to its location. The other day, I glanced at the address and realized the history of this plain building was really something.

Most Dodge City locals are familiar with Jacob Collar’s furniture and undertaker supply business. He was succeeded by Charles Dickerson who was later bought out by McVeigh and Kirkpatrick.

The 1884 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the back of a frame structure at what was then 328 West Chestnut Street. In those days, the store fronts were mainly located on the Front Street side and this lot had a furniture store with rooms for rent. The firms of F. A. Dunn and Co. merged with McVeigh and Kirkpatrick in October of 1884 and the new store was called Dunn and Kirkpatrick.

The Dodge City Democrat, November 29, 1884

They also had a store in Garden City. The partnership was dissolved in July of 1885 with Dunn assuming responsibility for the Garden City store and Kirkpatrick taking the one in Dodge. It is unclear how this transpired but suddenly there was a firm called Kirkpatrick and Dunn, this time with G. A. Dunn as partner.

The Globe Live Stock Journal, November 10, 1885

A catastrophic fire accelerated their construction plans in December of 1885. The map below isn’t to scale but at least it gives an idea of the layout. The fire started in a saloon right next door to the furniture store.

The Dodge City Democrat, December 12, 1885

The furniture store moved to Henry Sturm’s new brick building and excavation at the old site began almost immediately. Kirkpatrick and Dunn teamed up with their neighbors to the west to expedite rebuilding of the block.

The Dodge City Democrat, February 20, 1886

Just as the new building was nearing completion, the firm of Kirkpatrick and Dunn was dissolved. George Dunn retired but retained ownership of the structure. Ed Kirkpatrick continued the business as a sole proprietor as of late 1886.

The Globe Live Stock Journal, November 2, 1886

The 1887 Sanborn Map shows the furniture store taking up the entire building with frontage on both Chestnut and Front Streets. The block had been renumbered and the new address was 325 West Chestnut Street.

There were some issues early on with brick work having to be shored up on the new buildings in this block. The bricklayer was later killed by an architect in Denver after being accused of using inferior materials. Coincidence? We’ll never know.

The Globe Live Stock Journal, March 6, 1888

In May of 1895, Ed Kirkpatrick hired an undertaker by the name of Charles Hulpieu, who had recently moved from Garden City. When Ed Kirkpatrick moved his family to Arkansas City in early 1900, Charles Hulpieu and his brother-in-law, E. S. Adam, bought the store.

The Globe-Republican, January 11, 1900

Carrie Bainbridge, who as most of you know was Robert Rath’s mother, had bought the building around this time.

E. S. Adam bought out Hulpieu’s interest in the business in August of 1901. He operated as a sole proprietor until August of 1902 when the business became E. S. Adam & Company. His partner in this new company was former mayor, Adolphus Gluck. That partnership was dissolved with Gluck’s retirement in August of 1903 and Adam was a sole proprietor once again.

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving dinners in the Hulpieu-Adam family must have been a gas!

The Globe-Republican, January 28, 1904

Hulpieu had gone to work for the Russell Furniture Company and his brother-in-law was having none of it. But about a week later, the Russell Furniture Company bought out Adam’s store and installed Hulpieu as Manager. E. S. Adam then made arrangements to get outta Dodge…as one does.

The Globe-Republican, May 12, 1904

The business was called Home Furnishing Company and it was around for ages. The 1905 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows a furniture store on the main floor with club rooms upstairs. The club rooms seemed to have been used by Woodmen of the World, the Eagle Club, the Moose, etc.

Home Furnishing Company moved to a new location across Chestnut in early 1909 and Pastime Billiard Hall moved to the old spot that March with J. F. O’Neal as proprietor. O’Neal also operated a barber shop on the main floor.

The 1911 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the building’s new address of 205 West Chestnut Street. The building was destroyed in the Opera House fire on March 10, 1912.

In October of 1912, debris was still being cleared from the site in preparation for rebuilding. O’Neal thought he would be able to reopen his establishments but the Rath family had other ideas. Carrie Bainbridge terminated O’Neal’s lease based on the argument that the building was destroyed by a fire and this invalidated the lease. O’Neal sued and the courts initially sided with Bainbridge. O’Neal appealed and the case dragged on for quite a while.

In the meantime, the structure was rebuilt and Robert Rath planned to open the Rath Theater on December 7, 1912. Jack G. Abbott was hired as Manager.

Nothing ever goes exactly as planned and the 400-seat theater opened on December 30, 1912 to a packed house.

The Dodge City Daily Globe, December 28, 1912

You are not going to believe this but “From the Manger to the Cross” can be viewed online here.

The Dodge City Daily Globe, June 10, 1913

Jack Abbott left for California and began working at a company that manufactured motion picture film. He was replaced as Manager by F. A. Etrick.

Meanwhile, J. F. O’Neal’s suit against Carrie Bainbridge went all the way to the Kansas Supreme Court. He didn’t get his lease back but he was awarded compensation.

The Dodge City Daily Globe, March 9, 1915

Dances were held on the second floor above the theater.

Dodge City Daily Globe, September 21, 1915

The upstairs rooms were also used for various courses in shorthand and commercial spelling. Some courses were taught by traveling instructors but J. E. Shinn also gave instruction.

Dodge City Daily Globe, March 9, 1916

In October of 1916, F. A. Etrick announced he would become Rath’s competitor at the end of his lease. J. E. Shinn became the new manager and the theater was remodeled.

Dodge City Daily Globe, October 2, 1916

Ray Peacock of Stafford leased the theater in early 1917 and it reopened March 1. He was having trouble finding housing in Dodge. Go figure! The theater was remodeled again with new seats and new projection equipment.

1918 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the theater with frontage on both Chestnut and Front Streets. By 1920, the theater was operated by Frank E Drake. J. E. Dunbar operated a piano tuning business upstairs in the Moose Hall.

Etricks’ Directory of Ford County 1920

It was reported that Drake sold the theater to H. G. and Oscar Souder at the beginning of July 1921 but something may have prevented the sale from being finalized. W. H. Harpole purchased the theater later that month and it was redecorated again.

The Dodge City Journal, July 28, 1921

Harpole is the one who reopened the establishment as the Cozy Theatre, which many of you may remember. He was also a partner in the Crown Theatre and had a long-term lease at the Chalk Beeson Theater.

The Dodge City Journal, September 22, 1921

The Cozy was redecorated yet again in May of 1925. Its regular programming was shown at the Chalk Beeson during that time. This photo shows the Front Street entrance in 1925.

Photographer Unknown

In this photo from March of 1930, you can see the Front Street entrance looks more like two exits and it’s very utilitarian.

Photographer Unknown

In June of 1930, the Cozy was gutted by a fire that started in the basement.

The Spearville News, July 3, 1930

Clearly, the Cozy was remodeled and reopened. By 1931, it was a Fox theater and it had its ups and downs opening and closing and reformatting. Although the Cozy found itself running second-rate shows in the 1930s, it was part of the premiere of “Dodge City” in April of 1939 due to the insane demand for tickets.

By 1947, the Cozy was still plugging along and the upper floor was used as a residence.

Dodge City’s Diamond Jubilee Souvenir, 1947, published by the Dodge City Chamber of Commerce

But by 1953, the entire building was vacant.

Photo by Troy Robinson

Around that time, Glenn Cooper bought the building and it was renamed the Loy Theatre. The upper floor was once again used as a residence. That renaissance was short lived, however, and by 1955 the building was home to Paul Warner Appliances with the Knickerbocker Club upstairs.

Disabled American Veterans and Automatic Door Controls Company used the upper floor for a brief time around 1960 but the appliance store remained on the main level until the bitter end.

You know what happened next. Progress.

Garden City Telegram, September 11, 1969

The photo below shows the Wyatt Earp Boulevard entrance shortly before demolition.

Photo courtesy Marin Lix

Here is the Front Street entrance. You can see the building interiors were already being cleared.

Photo courtesy Marin Lix

Click here for the Google Street View of the block as it appears now.

As much as I hate to see historical buildings destroyed, they were allowed to deteriorate to the point where it was basically the only option. Funding was much more difficult to obtain in those days. Building owners have many more resources now to help with historic preservation before it’s too late.

UPDATE: A reader sent me a screenshot from a British Pathé newsreel that shows the exterior of the Cozy during the world premiere of “Dodge City.” Instead of taking my chances with their licensing requirements, I’m linking here to the short newsreel. Enjoy!

If you like what you see, be sure to subscribe (way at the bottom of the post on mobile devices) to receive an email each time a new post is published and share on social media. You can also buy me a cup of coffee using the donation form. Thanks for reading!


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Gwinner’s Cafe Then and Now

504 N Second Avenue

Gwinner’s Cafe was a Dodge City institution for decades. You may notice the Gwinner Building on Second Avenue south of Fidelity State Bank displays the year 1951 on its parapet. That seems kind of odd given the ages of the surrounding structures. So what was the deal? Amazingly, the county website shows this building was constructed in 1920. I don’t mean to be a jerk but…and there’s always a but…how?

This particular lot was slow to be developed. The block consisted of frame dwellings in 1884 and by 1887, the lot was empty. And that’s how it sat for about two decades. The first commercial structure to appear at 504 Second Avenue on a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map was a confectionery in 1911.

It turns out John Felkel and Ira Beck started the Palace of Sweets in the “new” Hoover Building just north of the Bee Hive in the Fall of 1907. Felkel had worked at the City Bakery for several years prior to this.

The Globe-Republican, November 7, 1907

The Hoover Building also had a north room at 506 Second Avenue, which housed a drug store started by R. C. Mershon of Stafford the same month. Because of the way the block appears now, it’s hard to visualize the two sharing more than a common wall. By August of 1909, the drug store had been purchased by George D Cochran.

Ira Beck exited the partnership by April of 1910 leaving John Felkel as the sole proprietor. It seems a little odd to advertise oysters with candies and ice cream but the US hadn’t completely recovered from its oyster obsession in 1910.

The Hutchinson Daily Gazette, April 14, 1910

Although it wasn’t heavily advertised as a dining establishment, The Palace of Sweets served lunch “at all hours.”

The Dodge City Globe, April 30, 1914

Martin M Gwinner built a bakery on Fourth Avenue in the Summer of 1888 when he was 25 years old. The City Bakery was located just north of J. H. Crawford’s grocery store. He later moved the business to Chestnut Street. So remember, John Felkel got his start working for Mr. Gwinner at City Bakery. This copy is a hot mess but it explains how the business became Gwinner’s Palace of Sweets.

The Dodge City Daily Globe, October 2, 1914

The article failed to explain that the bakery side of the operation was sold to the Sturgeon brothers and the confectionery portion was sold to Harry Grose.

It’s really difficult to find good depictions of the building as it appeared during that time but this ad helps. It’s absolutely bonkers to compare this image to the current view.

Dodge City Daily Globe, March 14, 1917

Anyway, Gwinner’s Palace of Sweets did steady business for a good long while.

The Dodge City Journal, December 9, 1920

Martin’s son, Donald, worked at the Palace of Sweets after college. Donald was a talented clarinetist, who played with the Dodge City Cowboy Band for a time. Around 1924, the shop began advertising as simply Gwinner’s with a new logo.

The Southwest News, April 18, 1924

The 1926 Sanborn is kind of interesting because it added 504 1/2 Second Avenue. I believe the second floor of the south end housed the Unique barber shop and beauty parlor, which was purchased by Edward Craig and Jack Cahoon (both formerly of the Pioneer Barber Shop) in 1926. The previous owner was C. O. Grounds. So maybe a building permit was issued in 1920, which is what the county is going by. At any rate, the Perfect Bakery occupied the north end of the building at that time.

I really like this postcard because in addition to the Gwinner sign, it also includes the First National Bank Building before the appearance of their first painted sign where the Stan Herd mural is now.

Photographer Unknown

This photo of the Cochran Building shows just a tiny bit of the original Gwinner Building to the left. It had a lot more detail than the current utilitarian structure.

Photographer Unknown

Before restaurants started ordering everything premade from Sysco and US Foods, they actually cooked stuff!

The Ford Progress, July 4, 1930

Sweetbriar Shops, Inc. was founded in Colorado in 1931 by Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Barron and they began with three stores. The chain incorporated in each of the various states in which they operated and they formed The Sweetbriar Shops, Inc. in Kansas on February 6, 1935. The Dodge City store occupied the north end of the building at 506 N Second Avenue for several years.

This photo from 1939 shows the bank on the corner, Sweetbriar one door south, and Gwinner’s to the far right. I’m not sure when it happened but it’s clear that the building was split into separate parcels with different owners. I believe Martin Gwinner only bought the south end.

Photographer Unknown

This photo from just a little later, shows the Gwinner sign out front as well as the first painted sign at First National Bank. You can also see the Hiram T Burr advertisement on the old Post Office, which has been covered up for several decades by a Texaco sign.

Photo by Frank Locke

It’s unclear when Martin finally retired for real but the Gwinner-Aten Cafe, Inc. was formed on March 8, 1944. Donald’s sister, Grace, was married to Clarence Aten and I’m not sure which of them was Donald’s partner…maybe both.

Martin died in November of 1945 at the age of 82 and his widow, Carrie Blackburn Gwinner, retained ownership of the building. The cafe continued until disaster struck in 1950.

Anyone who knows anything about Dodge City knows full well that this was not, in fact, the worst outbreak of fires in the town’s history but it is probably the worst example of arson here. As of September 21, there was “no trace” of the arsonist. Sweetbriar was moved into a temporary space at Hutton Electric at 505 First Avenue while their store was rebuilt. There were no plans for the continuation of Gwinner’s Cafe in Dodge City.

The Hutchinson News-Herald, February 18, 1951

Construction of the new building was underway by April of 1951. Meanwhile, the Sweetbriar chain was expanding in Kansas with the Great Bend store opening in 1953.

Great Bend Daily Tribune, August 22, 1953

Carrie Gwinner died in September of 1953 at the age of 89 and is buried next to Martin at Maple Grove Cemetery in Dodge. Donald moved to Colorado but his sister and her husband stayed in Dodge.

The image below shows Fidelity State Bank on the corner with the new expansion in the former Sweetbriar spot. I was so excited to find this one because it hasn’t looked like this in my lifetime.

Dodge City Daily Globe, Kansas Centennial Special Edition, July 1961

And here is how the new Sweetbriar store looked at that time.

Dodge City Daily Globe, Kansas Centennial Special Edition, July 1961

In the mid-1970s, the Sweetbriar chain headquartered in Denver consisted of 65 stores in roughly 14 western states. I believe the Hutchinson store opened in February of 1970. They even had their own branded store charge card as early as 1972.

The Hutchinson News, July 24, 1973

This photo shows the southward expansion of Fidelity and Sweetbriar’s new home in the old Palace of Sweets location. You will notice the windows had been removed from the new Fidelity building by the time it was taken.

Photo by Troy Robinson

I only have vague memories of Sweetbriar and that’s apparently because they went out of business in 1984 or 1985, with their last annual report being filed in Kansas for the year ending December 31, 1984. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong but I believe Sweetbriar moved to Village Square Mall a few years before the store closed.

There have been many, many establishments in the old Gwinner Cafe since Sweetbriar moved. The Street View on Google Maps will take you back to 2007. The building currently looks much better than it did from 2007 to 2018!

It is currently occupied by my studio and their website has quite a few interior photos. The studio is located upstairs in the big room and the exposed brick is amazing.

I’m not sure if the arsonist was ever caught but now we know why there’s such a young building on that old block.

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