Rath & Bainbridge Drug Then and Now

501 First Avenue (now 200 W Wyatt Earp Boulevard)

There are a million resources for learning about the Rath family in Dodge City so I won’t attempt to reinvent the wheel here. A reader asked me to take a look at the Rath & Bainbridge Drug store and I obviously knew a little (having been raised in Dodge) but I had never really pieced the story together because my focus has always been on everything Beeson.

For example, I had never made the connection with the whole Rath and Bainbridge thing. I know, right?! So there was some weirdness with Charles Rath divorcing his wife, Carrie. She later married a Bainbridge so Rath and Bainbridge was initially a partnership between Robert M Rath (Charles and Carrie’s son) and Carrie.

The building in question is at First Avenue and (modern) Front Street but I’m going all the way back to the beginning because I can’t help myself. Rath and Bainbridge was not a new venture. Dr. Thomas L. McCarty opened the City Drug Store circa 1877.

Ford County Globe, January 1, 1878

This next announcement surprised me a bit. I didn’t realize Dr. McCarty had moved his store but it turns out his previous location was one door east of F. C. Zimmermann’s hardware store on Front Street.

Ford County Globe, March 11, 1879

This is a photo my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Beeson, had of the City Drug Store on the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Front Street but I’m not sure about the date. Possibly around 1887? The elder Dr. McCarty operated the drug store while also practicing medicine in a separate part of the building for several years. If you compare the 1884 and 1887 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, you can see how the business grew over the years.

Photographer unknown

Walter F Pine is pictured above, standing in the middle background. Pine worked at City Drug Store for quite a while and appeared to acquire at least part of the business around 1895, possibly with some help from a man named Amos. Then somehow Amos & Gwinner owned the store. This all took place in a relatively short period of time.

The Globe-Republican, July 25, 1901

Patent medicines were super sketchy. The terrifying concoction advertised below contained chloroform, morphine, and pine tar.

The Globe-Republican, November 7, 1901

I found this nugget quite by accident; It turns out Robert M Rath dabbled in the arts.

The Globe-Republican, March 6, 1902

Apparently, the “vice of nagging” could be cured by a laxative containing 18% alcohol.

The Globe-Republican, March 13, 1902
Dodge City Democrat, September 26, 1902
Dodge City Democrat, January 2, 1903
The Globe-Republican, September 24, 1903
The Globe-Republican, December 17, 1903
The Globe-Republican, March 17, 1904
The Globe-Republican, April 14, 1904

This one’s a real doozy.

The Globe-Republican, September 1, 1904
The Globe-Republican, January 5, 1905
The Journal-Democrat, July 21, 1905
The Journal-Democrat, August 31, 1906

Rath & Bainbridge also sold Victrolas. Click here for a list of dealers in Kansas. Here is a link to a photo of their sign advertising prices.

The Journal-Democrat, February 22, 1907
The Globe-Republican, May 2, 1907
The Globe-Republican, May 9, 1907
The Journal-Democrat, June 7, 1907

Rath & Bainbridge Drug moved to their new location at the northwest corner of First Avenue and Chestnut Street (now the Front Street parking lot) in early 1908.

The Journal-Democrat, December 20, 1907

A new plate glass window was installed facing Chestnut Street and they anticipated the new space would be ready for occupancy by April 1.

The Globe-Republican, February 13, 1908

The 1905 Sanborn Map shows the grocery store next to open lots on First Avenue. This map was created before the new Masonic Temple had been built. You may also note this map was created before Dodge City standardized street addresses. Later maps will show different addresses for this building. There has been a building on this site with the same orientation since at least 1884, when it held stick-built lodge rooms. By 1887, the IOOF had replaced the wood structure with a brick building. The basic footprint remained the same but by 1899, the building had been split with a storage room being assigned the 710 1/2 street address.

The Journal-Democrat, March 6, 1908

Wait a minute…liquor license applications went to the…Probate Court??? Tell me that’s an error.

The Journal-Democrat, April 10, 1908
The Globe-Republican, August 13, 1908
The Dodge City Kansas Journal, April 16, 1909
1909 Post Card, Photographer Unknown
The Globe-Republican, May 20, 1909

I literally cannot even with this one. When my grandma explained how Chalk Beeson Theater manager Wolf Goldstein was run out of town for being a Jew, my child brain couldn’t process the information. Like, what did Judaism have to do with successfully managing a theater? Who ran him out of town? Oh right…the f-ing Klan. Got it. This ad makes me angry.

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, February 25, 1910
1910 Post Card, Photographer Unknown

The 1911 Sanborn Map is quite interesting. The 1910 post card above shows the Rath & Bainbridge building on the left and the Masonic Temple on the right but there’s a space in the middle which would later be occupied by the Bainbridge building. By the time the 1911 map was printed, the Bainbridge building had been constructed and occupied. You’ll also notice the addresses on First Avenue show both the old and new numbering systems.

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, March 15, 1912

“He is about 28 years old, and bright, except for his craving for drugs.”

The Dodge City Daily Globe, April 8, 1913

“The treatment consists of plenty of sleep and food and no drugs.” This is beyond parody. Also, if you let me out I’m pretty sure I won’t need drugs anymore. Scout’s honor!

The Dodge City Globe, April 24, 1913
The Dodge City Globe, February 26, 1914
The Dodge City Globe, April 30, 1914

Roy Bainbridge was Robert Rath’s half-brother.

The Dodge City Globe, February 25, 1915

Imagine having to stop by the drug store every day for box scores.

The Dodge City Daily Globe, April 20, 1915
The Dodge City Daily Globe, June 7, 1915

The 1918 Sanborn Map shows the neighborhood filled in with very few wood frame structures.

Etricks’ Directory of Ford County 1920
The Dodge City Journal, February 3, 1921

1921 Post Card, Photographer Unknown – 2022 Photograph by Author

The Dodge City Journal, October 12, 1922

Carrie Bainbridge had been in poor health for several years and died in November of 1923.

The Dodge City Journal, November 29, 1923

Very soon after Carrie’s death, Rath & Bainbridge Drug announced new owners had taken over the Rexall franchise.

The Dodge City Journal, January 3, 1924
The Dodge City Journal, January 10, 1924
The Dodge City Journal, May 8, 1924
The Dodge City Journal, May 8, 1924

And there you have it.

Etrick’s Ford County Directory, 1924

The 1926 Sanborn Map doesn’t reveal many changes to the neighborhood.

The Dodge City Journal, July 11, 1929

Mrs. T. J Phillips died in June of 1932 after surgery at St. Anthony’s Hospital and the pharmacy changed hands soon after.

The Catholic Advance, February 3, 1934
Polk’s Dodge City (Ford County, Kans.) Directory, 1953
Polk’s Dodge City (Ford County, Kansas) Directory, 1962

A & A Drug Store still occupied the space in 1967 but the building was vacant by 1970. John Wilson retired at some point and died at age 81 in January of 1982. It was later home to businesses such as the Corner Café and State Farm Insurance.

I haven’t been in the Rath & Bainbridge building formerly at 501 First Avenue or the adjoining Bainbridge building at 503 First Avenue in nearly 20 years. They have been remodeled into office spaces and I’ve never seen the residential areas upstairs. At the time, I had no idea where I was standing so I didn’t pay any attention at all to the particulars. I hadn’t gotten any good photos during my previous visits, so I took the opportunity while I was home for the concert at Chalk’s grave:

I have a reputation for speaking my mind and I certainly won’t hold back now. The reason I hadn’t taken any good pics of this building or the one next door is because they’re both hideous and good photos are literally impossible. If you look closely at the third photo in the slideshow, you can see a bit of exposed red brick. So apparently some galaxy-brain genius decided to put a lame brick veneer on this bad boy. Look at how deep the window casings appear as a result. Every ornate element has been obliterated. Whoever glazed the windows deserves a beating. Did they not own a level? It’s just so painful to look at! And then the vomit-colored Bainbridge Building next door! The red brick where the National Register plaque is located is from the old Masonic Temple and I…like…does no one know how to remove sloppy paint whoopsies?!? How embarrassing! I hate seeing buildings allowed to rot.

Anyway, I had fun looking through all of the old Rath & Bainbridge ads. If there’s a building or location you would like me to research, send me a message or leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do. With any luck, our Arizona tiny home will be on-site soon and I’ll be able to annoy you with our DIY updates.

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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Kansas Power Co. Plant Then and Now

709 W Locust [Santa Fe] (Trail) Street

There is nothing I can tell you about this building that can’t be found in the Kansas Register of Historic Places documents, which are the most detailed I’ve ever seen for historic buildings. The nomination form gives an exhaustive history of the plant as well as the evolution of the power companies in Dodge City. The inventory includes interior photos as well as some historical shots. It’s definitely worth your time to scan through all of the materials.

This building was right next door to the Water Department building that was recently destroyed by a fire. I’ve always thought it had a neat style but I didn’t know anything about it. Since the research has already been done for me, I focused mostly on newspaper articles and advertisements. I’ve also included links to the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps that are available online so you can zoom in and take a look at the changes to the plant buildings and the surrounding area over time.

Ordinance No. 100 granted franchise and the exclusive rights to light the new city to Dodge City Incandescent Electric Light Co.

The Dodge City Democrat, May 15, 1886
The Dodge City Times, June 3, 1886
The Dodge City Democrat, June 5, 1886

This next piece is amazing. Think about how quickly this all came together. The Wickedest Town in the West was pretty damned modern! Also, in case you didn’t know, the word “dynamo” wasn’t being used as a descriptor; it was a generator.

The Globe Live Stock Journal, August 24, 1886

The 1887 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the facility on Walnut (Gunsmoke) Street between First and Second Avenues.

The 1905 Sanborn Map shows the Midland Water, Light, and Ice Co. building on what was then called Locust Street.

The town was growing and it quickly became clear that expansion would be necessary.

The Globe-Republican, September 19, 1907

It seems like a lot was going on in that one plant but the company was also selling all sorts of electric contraptions that facilitated the sale of more electricity.

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, May 7, 1909
The Dodge City Kansas Journal, August 27, 1909
The Dodge City Kansas Journal, October 8, 1909

There were disagreements between the Company and the City (and the citizens, apparently) about pricing, costs of infrastructure improvements, and the service expectations. A split was inevitable, leaving the City to handle the Waterworks.

The Wichita Eagle, January 21, 1910

The timing made me laugh. Of *course* no expense would be spared once the Waterworks could be spun off to the City. I’m not even mad at him. That was good maneuvering!

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, August 5, 1910

The 1911 Sanborn Map shows the new plant next door to the Waterworks facility on Santa Fe Trail Street.

The Dodge City Daily Globe, March 23, 1912

Dodge City residents were hooked and more expansion was required.

The Dodge City Daily Globe, March 13, 1913

The Dodge City Daily Globe, August 4, 1913

The 1918 Sanborn Map shows the expanded facility.

Some of the advertising was gag-worthy but whatever. Also notable was the latest name change.

The Dodge City Journal, October 7, 1920
The Dodge City Journal, September 22, 1921
The Dodge City Journal, October 5, 1922

I would have preferred the electric train, thank you very little.

The Dodge City Journal, September 27, 1923
The Dodge City Journal, January 24, 1924
The Dodge City Journal, April 3, 1924

Things started getting very corporate in 1925 and that trend continued for pretty much the rest of the 20th Century.

The Hutchinson News, April 9, 1925
The Southwest News, January 21, 1926

The 1926 Sanborn Map shows further expansion of the plant.

The folks at the City didn’t like the deal they were getting on electricity from their new corporate overlords.

That certainly didn’t take long.

The Hutchinson News, May 30, 1927
The Ford Progress, March 29, 1929
The Dodge City Journal, December 11, 1930

1932 was when the Trail Street plant became a backup.

The Ford Progress, April 17, 1931

Dodge City’s Diamond Jubilee Souvenir, May 1947

The Trail plant continued to be a backup until 1996. I had forgotten about Centel and all of the wild mergers and acquisitions in the 1980s and ’90s. You’re so lucky to have Victory Electric now. I just remember shitty service and rates that fluctuated like crazy during those regulatory fights.

Here are some photos I took before I knew anything about the building’s history:

Next time, I’ll take a look at the Rath & Bainbridge Drug Store. This one was a reader request so if there’s a building or landmark you would like to know more about, feel free to send me a message and I’ll see what I can do!

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 VII

Thanks again to those of you who have supported this blog. Your donations help offset the costs of subscription databases and web hosting, in addition to massive amounts of coffee. I appreciate you!

Lora-Locke Hotel

100 Walnut (Gunsmoke) Street

Believe it or not (shut up), I’m old enough to remember when the Lora-Locke Hotel was a hotel. My most memorable experience at the Lora-Locke was when my mom (and one of her friends?) took me there for lunch and I was tricked into ordering a Reuben sandwich. Why tricked, you might ask. Because my mother knew I hated sauerkraut but she thought I was just doing one of those stubborn kid things because it sounded weird or whatever. I kept asking what was on it and she just kept saying she thought I would like it. I gave up and ordered the Reuben and knew the moment I bit into it that something was terribly wrong. I asked if it had sauerkraut on it and she burst out laughing. She had purposely ordered something she knew I would like just in case I really did hate it. And I did…so we traded.

That memory was made possible by Mike Burkhart, among others. Mike, especially, poured a lot of love and a helluva lot of money into the Lora-Locke, literally saving her from disaster.

A lot of this you may already know. The Lora-Locke Hotel opened for business in 1928. It was named after Lora Howell and Hattie (Locke) Theis, wives of George Howell and Otto Theis.

Walnut (Gunsmoke) Street entrance

Howell and Theis formed Citizens Hotel Company in May of 1927. The site they selected is at the corner of Central Avenue and Walnut Street, which was the northwest boundary of the Fort Dodge Military Reservation.

The Wichita Eagle, February 3, 1955

The 1926 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows only dwellings on the entire block.

Howell and Theis intended to build a five-story hotel for about $300,000 and hired Wichita architect Ellis Charles to draw up the plans. It was to be built by Eastergard & Bullard.

The Wichita Eagle, August 18, 1927

Cost estimates clearly varied, perhaps along with degrees of accuracy.

The Daily National Hotel Reporter (Chicago, Illinois), August 25, 1927
The Wichita Eagle, September 4, 1927

The Lora-Locke was scheduled to open on or around March 1, 1928 and was to be managed by Mr. and Mrs. W. M. Brown. Ten shops on the ground floor were already rented by February 16, 1928. According to The Daily National Hotel Reporter, the actual construction costs amounted to $350,000.

Retail spaces along Central Avenue
The Hutchinson News, March 19, 1928

Some people mocked the name, saying it sounded like a “beauty parlor or millinery shop.” The Dodge City Chamber of Commerce moved into its rooms at the hotel in March of 1928.

The Hutchinson News, March 31, 1928 with a classic typo

I wonder if tear sheets were a thing in the newspaper advertising biz in 1928.

The Hutchinson News, March 31, 1928

From the very beginning, the Lora-Locke hosted guests attending all sorts of large events.

The Wichita Eagle, April 7, 1928

The Lora-Locke’s manager was fired not long after the hotel opened, causing several employees to walk off the job.

The Hutchinson News, April 17, 1928

Hal Minton was hired to replace Mr. Brown in June of 1928. I have no idea where he came from but he must have been thrilled to see his new hotel make the national news.

Rupert Hughes – The San Francisco Examiner, December 2, 1928

The Dodge City Journal, June 27, 1929
The Dodge City Journal, July 18, 1929

While most of us remember nothing but a tight housing market in Dodge, contrast this article with a later quote from Mike Burkhart in which he indicated there were too many hotel rooms in town.

The Wichita Eagle, October 12, 1929

I admit I am somewhat curious about what kind of hustle these ladies were running.

The Hutchinson News, October 17, 1929

The block along Walnut Street where the Lora-Locke sits next door to another Howell building (and another building Mike Burkhart tried to save) was nicknamed “The Million Dollar Block.”

Corner of Walnut (Gunsmoke) Street and First Avenue
The Dodge City Journal, January 9, 1930

Honestly, I’m not sure this recipe is worth trying but it ran in newspapers throughout the country.

The State Journal (Lansing, Michigan), December 4, 1931

Hal Minton resigned as Manager in November of 1932 to head West and was replaced by Mike Biggs.

Otto Theis died after falling off a horse at his ranch near Englewood in May of 1934.

The Catholic Advance, February 9, 1935

The movie Dodge City premiered at the Dodge Theater in Dodge City in April of 1939. Less than six months later, the Lora-Locke was sold.

The Hutchinson News, September 6, 1939

This is where I get a bit confused. I’ve read numerous articles and historical accounts which state the Lora-Locke was owned by the Theis family (after buying out George Howell’s widow in the 1940s) continuously until it closed the first time in 1978. At some point, there was a Howell-Theis Hotel Company in play and maybe that’s the entity which bought it back from American Hotels Co.? Maybe it was a DBA? Down below, you will see articles showing the Theis family (Theis Co.) again as owners of the hotel as of the early 1960s. The sequence of events is unclear to me so I would appreciate comments from anyone who knows the complete story.

During the Dust Bowl, each room had adhesive tape and when the wind started blowing hard, the desk clerk would call all the rooms and tell the guests, “Duster coming.” The guests would then plaster the windows and doors with the tape to keep out the dust. And then a wayward towel found its way home.

The Kansas City Times, June 4, 1949
Weekly Star Farmer (Kansas City), November 25, 1953
Polk’s Dodge City Directory 1953
Polk’s Dodge City Directory 1957
The Advance Register, April 1, 1960

So here’s where I found mention of the Theis family owning the hotel again.

The Wichita Sunday Eagle and The Wichita Beacon, July 9, 1961
Great Bend Daily Tribune, December 10, 1963
The Wichita Eagle, March 14, 1964
Garden City Telegram, August 8, 1972
Garden City Telegram, January 16, 1975

This article incorrectly stated the theater was in the lower level of the hotel.

The Wichita Eagle, October 19, 1977

And then…a shock.

The Parsons Sun, February 11, 1978

Wichita Beacon, March 21, 1978

Bob Stith, Myron Wheaton, and George Voss bought the building in July of 1983 and began working to reopen the Lora-Locke Hotel. Dodge City authorized the sale of $1.2 million in industrial revenue bonds to finance the purchase of the building and equipment and for renovations. Work was expected to be completed in December of 1983 but after a brief delay, she reopened on February 26, 1984 with a restaurant, club, 19 suites, and 35 guest rooms. Work was to continue on additional guest and resident spaces as funds allowed.

The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, September 20, 1984

But then a reprieve.

The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, October 17, 1984

Renovations were about 70% complete when Burkhart stepped in and paid off creditors. Some apartments were occupied and the hotel had some overnight guests but utilities hadn’t even been paid and the gas had been shut off. Burkhart also got the Lora-Locke added to the National Register of Historic Places. He also bought the old Montgomery Ward building next door and said the Million Dollar Block was closer to the Four Million Dollar Block back in 1986.

And then Miss Kitty came to town and stayed in the same room Errol Flynn had used during the premiere of Dodge City.

The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, February 28, 1985
The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, August 27, 1985

I had to read this one a few times to understand what in the wide world of sports they were thinking.

Parsons Sun, December 31, 1985

Unfortunately, nostalgia is extremely expensive and love doesn’t pay the bills.

Parsons Sun, August 5, 1987

The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, February 27, 1988
The Manhattan Mercury, April 21, 1988
The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, September 22, 1987
Los Angeles Times, November 6, 1988

The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, November 16, 1988

The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, November 20, 1988

I vaguely recall the debates and delays taking place when I was in junior high and high school. My attention was on other things but the arguments were hard to miss.

The Wichita Eagle, January 28, 1991

I’m sure you’ve been waiting for my take on all of this. Eyebrows may have been raised in 1991 but the building was saved. I was in grade school when the Lora-Locke reopened so I don’t know how viable Stith, Wheaton, Voss, and ultimately, Burkhart really found the project. I’ve heard rumors that Burkhart, at least, just pumped enough money into the building so she would make an attractive option for Ford County. Maybe. Maybe he was a true believer and thought she could continue as a hotel. I don’t know and I don’t care. The Lora-Locke was saved. The county obviously had to make layout changes for functionality and systems changes in accordance with building codes but they managed to leave the Lora-Locke’s beauty intact. Some floors have been modified to the point where it’s difficult to tell you’re in a beautiful old building. All you have to do is wander around the place a bit, though, and you’ll see why she was worth saving.

A while back, I found this blog post from a guy who stayed at the Lora-Locke with his parents in the 1980s.

I remember hearing someone who worked at the hotel complaining about pheasant season. Hunters had filled all of the rooms in Dodge and several stayed at the Lora-Locke. They had apparently been born in barns and determined the hotel bathrooms were appropriate venues for cleaning birds. Imagine!

Anyway, the Lora-Locke is a real gem and the local community should be grateful to the people who took a chance on her. The next time you’re renewing your tags or researching a deed, take a look around. Sit on the mezzanine and just enjoy.

This is the last one in the series…at least for now. I’ll probably write about the Chalk Beeson Theater at some point but I really need to focus on my Otero Beeson research. Until then, you can check out Parts I through VI 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)

Part VI – Dodge City Senior High School (1601 First Avenue)

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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