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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Langton-Beadle Building Then and Now

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.

Ford County Globe, August 5, 1879

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.

Ford County Globe, February 21, 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.

Ford County Globe, April 8, 1884

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.

Kansas Cowboy, January 24, 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.

The Globe Live Stock Journal, April 12, 1887

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:

The Globe Live Stock Journal, May 17, 1887

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 Globe Live Stock Journal, July 12, 1887

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.

The Dodge City Times, November 10, 1887

A public library was established in a room above Mrs. Beadle’s store in December of 1887.

The Globe Live Stock Journal, November 29, 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.

Times-Democrat, September 6, 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.

The Dodge City Times, August 15, 1889

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.

The Dodge City Times, June 12, 1891

Mrs. Beadle announced she was exiting the millinery business in November of 1891 and operations were winding down in July of 1892.

The Dodge City Democrat, July 16, 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.

The Dodge City Democrat, December 10, 1892

And that lasted about a minute.

The Dodge City Echo, January 19, 1893

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 Dodge City Globe, February 2, 1911

The Dodge City Globe, June 1, 1911

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, November 24, 1911

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, April 12, 1912

The Dodge City Daily Globe, October 21, 1913

Dodge City Daily Journal, May 3, 1917

Dodge City Daily Globe, October 18, 1918

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.

The Dodge City Journal, July 22, 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 Dodge City Journal, August 24, 1922

The 1926 Sanborn shows the Kuhn Brothers Drug Co. on the south end and a courtyard against the Eckles wall on the north end.

The Southwest News, December 16, 1926

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.

Photographer unknown

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.

Photographer unknown

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.

The Catholic Advance, February 9, 1935

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.

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

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

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.

Photo by Hoover Cott

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.

Photo by Hoover Cott

Dodge City Daily Globe, Special Travelers’ Edition, 1960

Speaking of Pfiester Studio, this is one of the most confusing ads I think I’ve ever seen:

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

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.

Photo by Troy Robinson

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.

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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Ford High School Then and Now

8th Street and Prairie Street, Ford, Kansas

The Pioneer 1971
January 2022

Astounding transformation, yes?!

Ford is now a shadow of what it once was. I lived there for about five years and was shocked to learn my street (Prairie Street, natch) had once been paved. Keeping up with maintenance became too costly as the population dwindled, so the City dumped dirt on top of the asphalt and just rolled with it. When the dirt gets worn and washed away, you can still see the asphalt below. Along with paved roads, Ford once had an elementary school and a high school, as well as passenger train service to Dodge City. By the time I bought a house there, even Ford’s liquor store had closed.

But in 1912 (two years after my former house was built), things were happening in Ford!

The Topeka Daily State Journal, May 4, 1912

Unlike their neighbors in Dodge, the people of Ford didn’t mess around with kids in overcrowded classrooms and they had the new building ready for occupancy the same year. The news snippet above referred to the new building as a high school but as you can see below, it was a school for all grades.

The Ford Promoter, November 14, 1912

The structure completed in 1912 (prior to the addition of the auditorium at the south end) wasn’t very big but there were only five students in the first graduating class of 1916.

The Ford Promoter, May 25, 1916

Ford took their sports ball contests quite seriously and enjoyed considerable success for such a small school.

Hutchinson Daily Gazette, October 29, 1916

But what the heck? They then beat Garden City the following month, after having eggs thrown at them while waiting for their train in Dodge. Such drama. They couldn’t have been playing Dodge and Garden varsity teams…right?!

By 1917, the lower grades were bursting at the seams with as many as three grades stuck in one classroom. A local home was rented for additional space and newspaper editorials called for a second school. This time, the residents weren’t so quick to jump on another bond issue. Instead, they built a detached Vocational Agriculture building at the north end of the school.

The Ford Progress, October 20, 1922
The old shop is now used by the City of Ford Maintenance Department.

Since one of the rooms was being used as an auditorium, it made sense to build a real gymnasium/auditorium and free up more classroom space.

The Hutchinson News, May 24, 1927
The Pioneer 1956

The Ford Progress, February 28, 1930

That was long but you need to understand that I didn’t even include all of it. You’re welcome.

The Ford Progress, August 15, 1930
The Ford Progress, October 23, 1931

They were trying to put Ford on the map!

The Ford Progress, August 26, 1932
The Hutchinson, Kansas, News-Herald, February 27, 1936
The Hutchinson, Kansas, News-Herald, November 11, 1944
The Pioneer 1956

I can’t remember when the elementary school was built but it screams 1950s to me. The 1956 yearbook includes some photos taken from the baseball diamond with the elementary school in the background. I mention this because high school events often took place in the grade school, presumably because it was newer and (I think) larger.

The Wichita Beacon, July 24, 1970
The Pioneer 1971
Garden City Telegram, April 28, 1971

The Class of 1972 was the last to graduate from Ford High School. It was all quite messy. For the Fall of 1971, the Ford High School football team was only able to schedule six games because of apparent interference from the Dodge City USD 443, which governed the Ford schools at that time. I’m guessing the interference was caused by the budget/tax revenue whoopsie. By early September, Ford’s fate had not yet been determined.

I’m not 100 percent clear about how the State handled the fallout but ultimately, Ford and Bucklin consolidated and they all became Red Aces. How weird would it be to suddenly walk the hallways of your competitors…after your town seceded from that district? Totes awk.

One of my neighbors said he and his friends still played basketball in the gym after work for many years after the school closed. The building was used for community events until it became a safety hazard.

A former Ford City Clerk told me the City Council had gotten bids to demo the building but it was ridiculously expensive, especially since there was asbestos that needed to be removed. Some locals thought they could pull the walls down with a tractor because there’s apparently nothing a John Deere can’t do. They were wrong. Pulling on the walls just caused the roof to cave in. So they made it worse and there it sat.

Some lady bought the property and refused to do anything with it. People would try to buy it from her and she would refuse. This went on for years until finally a guy thought he had it bought in about 2011. If I remember correctly, he intended to turn it into condos but there was a ton of cleanup to do. Most of the lot was completely overgrown, to the point where trees had to be removed in order to even get to the building and haul out debris. I remember seeing him behind the auditorium trying to clear a path. Honestly, even back then it was clear the building was too far gone. But then I think something happened to prevent the sale from going through. Probably a lot of things!

I went into the school in about 2007 and it wasn’t yet a total wreck. I remember walking in the main floor hallway, which was concrete and thinking it could be much worse. Then I nearly stepped off into the void. It hadn’t occurred to me that the classroom floors had been wood…at one point. They were GONE. I looked down all the way into the basement locker room and was glad I didn’t take that route to check it out.

The gym/auditorium was a shit show but it was intact enough that I could tell it was a really cool addition. The wood floor was a warped mess (due to the giant hole in the roof) but the bead board around the stage area was still there and I just thought it was a shame to see it ruined. The Google Street View images are from June of 2008 but they’re total garbage so you can’t see much. Please note that the addresses are all jacked on Prairie Street so you can’t even pay attention to them. The satellite image below is also out of date.

I’ve looked all over for the photos I took that day but they must have been stored on an old PC that died ages ago. It would have been really interesting to compare the photos from that day to these that I took in January of this year. The goats seemed to be enjoying themselves!

Note: I did not trespass to get these pics. All were taken from outside the fenced area.

Here’s a bonus gallery of the old grade school, which now houses the City of Ford offices, City Council meetings, etc. The City’s Facebook Page has a few interior photos as well. Residents were also able to reserve the cafeteria and gymnasium/auditorium for family reunions and other events but I’m not sure if that is still the case. When I lived there, the City Library was still open but it closed at least four years ago.

I’m not sure what it is about the Ford school buildings that I find so compelling. The grade school interior isn’t even attractive! But I don’t want either building to be destroyed. They represent a time when the community still looked forward to growth and prosperity. When I look at what we have in front of us now as a country…and western civilization in general, all I see is doom and decay. On that happy note, the digital nomad life continues!

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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Dodge City Then and Now: Part VI

First of all, thank you to everyone who has read and shared these posts. I am especially grateful to all of you who have donated to the cause! I’m writing this one from a seedy hotel in Tucson because what better time to return to the desert than during the Gem and Mineral Show.

This was a fun building to research. Just looking for the year of completion was quite a ride. 1923? 1924? 1926? Nope…none of those! Even some official sources (which I will not publicly shame) missed the mark. Because it lacks any sort of style, I’m pretending the addition along Second Avenue doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, the most recent Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps available online for Dodge are from 1926 so they were no help.

Dodge City Senior High School

1601 First Avenue

The people who say you don’t know what you have until its gone didn’t attend high school on First Avenue in Dodge City. I’m pretty sure we all knew, even when we were self-absorbed teenagers. The 1966 addition on the back is meh, whatever…but the original building is an absolute treasure and I’m so happy Dodge has made the effort to keep it in use. The latest additions on the north end are about as well-matched as one could possibly expect.

I’ve mentioned before that Dodge City schools have always been overcrowded. In addition, technology advanced very quickly in the early 20th century. Our high schoolers were doing the sportsball contests before they had their own dedicated facilities. The high school building on Second Avenue was magnificent but its facilities were outdated in no time. Imagine holding a district basketball tourney at an elementary school because it was a better venue!

The Dodger, March 2, 1926

The Southwest News, September 9, 1926

Not to worry, though…the school board was on the case. I can imagine the faces of Dodge City residents when they learned they were expected to cough up $250,000 (nearly $4 million in 2022) for the new facilities. The district was already at their legal bonded debt limit of $269,000 and they wanted to basically double it.

The Dodger, January 11, 1927

We all complain about opinion pieces masquerading as journalism but it isn’t a new problem. Check out this beauty on the front page, above the fold, presented as news:

The Southwest News, January 20, 1927

The high school paper did a much better job of relaying the facts. Also, it looks like the school board learned from prior missteps and quickly resolved the location issue.

The Dodger, March 22, 1927

It’s no surprise there was fierce opposition to the plan. There always is.

The Dodger, April 5, 1927

Imagine how bad the conditions must have been for the bond issue to pass by more than two to one!

The Dodger, April 19, 1927

While the Class of 1928 missed out on the new building, they were excited for their younger peers and included this artist’s rendering in their yearbook. It would have been neat if the school had been built as depicted here with those spaces along Second Avenue…expensive, but neat.

The 1928 SOU’WESTER “The Weather Edition”, Volume 12

This time, the school board even correctly guestimated in which year the new high school would be completed!

The Hutchinson News, October 9, 1928

So this is super cool…a member of the first DCHS graduating class attended the dedication of the new school.

The Hutchinson News, December 12, 1928

These self-absorbed teenagers were also pretty grateful for the new facility provided to them.



As previously mentioned, Dodge tried to build a new high school forever when I was growing up but couldn’t get the bond issue to pass. I couldn’t understand why it was such a big deal to simply add an additional high school but you see, Football won State once in the 1970s so you know we *had* to stay 6A to reclaim our glory, or whatever. I mean, I get it. What would the mascot for the Dodge City Northwest High School be anyway? They’d probably call them the Cowboys or something equally ridiculous. So I will acknowledge the logic in their argument. Dodge City is and will always be “Home of the Red Demons,” regardless of what my junior high art teacher’s husband had to say about it.

The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, July 7, 1988

Anyway, 83 years was probably too long at that location, especially since Associated Press can’t do the maths and The Wichita Eagle can’t do a basic fact check. 2001 minus 1928 is 73. You saw it here first!

The Wichita Eagle, June 1, 2001

If you haven’t been by the school in a while, here are a few photos I took recently to refresh your memory. I still love all the details…especially the D Men outside the gym.

Next time, I’ll dig into the Lora Locke Hotel. Until then, you can check out Parts I through V below:

Part I – First National Bank Building

Part II – First Baptist Church, Walnut Street, Masonic Temple, First Avenue, and O’Neal Hotel

Part III – Merritt Beeson House

Part IV – Carnegie Library Building, Dodge City Milling and Elevator Company, First Presbyterian Church, and Post Office

Part V – Dodge City High School (1000 North Second Avenue)

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