Perkins Grocery Then and Now

306-308 Walnut / Gunsmoke Street

If you haven’t walked around downtown Dodge City lately, I suggest you do. There are so many buildings that are completely unrecognizable…in a good way! I don’t know why everyone was so obsessed with modernizing perfectly appealing brick buildings but there were some unfortunate decades, y’all. Downtown Dodge went through an extended awkward phase. It’s no wonder people didn’t want to shop there. But now all these interesting façades are surprising the hell out of me and I am here for it.

Walnut Street was all residential up until about 1887, when a couple businesses were established on the block between Second and Third Avenues. The block has since been renumbered but there was a carpentry shop at what is now 308 Gunsmoke. By 1892, that building was a stable and it was moved or demolished sometime between then and 1899. The dwelling to the east with the current address of 306 Gunsmoke was the residence of a mail carrier named James W Madison from at least 1915 until June of 1917. He later moved to a home on Second Avenue.

The county website indicates the current structure was built in 1920 but the 1926 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the frame dwelling and empty lot at that location. The 1932 Sanborn is the first to include the current building, which makes sense when you consider the style of brick used.

Weyand Feed & Seed Company appears to have been the first business to occupy the new building. A 1961 ad in the Globe indicated the business was started in 1932 so that tracks.

The Ford Progress, June 17, 1932

George Weyand died in 1928 and I believe it was his son, Glen, who ran the business that moved to 312 W Chestnut circa 1944. Glen’s sister was Esther Eckles.

The Catholic Advance, March 28, 1936

Busley Brothers had a packing house in Dodge and there was also a business in Colorado. The third Busley Grocery operated at 308 Walnut until the mid 1940s. By 1947, S.N. Perkins was operating the store.

The Advance Register, September 7, 1951

At some point, it appears the store may have expanded to occupy the entire building because there was no listing at 306 Walnut for ages. Seymour Perkins died in October of 1956 at the age of 64.

Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 3094 was located there from 1957 to about 1960.

Photo by Hoover Cott

Then the Marine Corps League Lodge was in that spot in the early 1960s. By 1967, Vance Harvey operated Harvey’s Club in the building. Those were prime years for “modernization” and I don’t think anything good happened there for a long time.

This is how the building looked for as long as I can remember…empty and forlorn.

And this is the same building now:

Clearly, some of the decorative elements were added during the remodel but assuming the brick veneer is original…why the hell would you cover it with cheap garbage? This is gorgeous!

If you click on this Google search link, there are several interior photos. All I can say is do it again!

Spoiler alert: They did.

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Golden Kue Then and Now

320 West Chestnut Street / Wyatt Earp Boulevard

It seems strange to me that a business which was so well-known when I was growing up in Dodge City barely exists in the digital universe. It was much easier back then to visualize the current structure’s past life. But naturally, I was curious about what had stood on that corner in the distant past.

The 1884 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows houses facing Third Avenue and a wood frame photo gallery to the east. Brick construction hadn’t yet been mainstreamed by the continual devastating fires. The 1887 Sanborn map shows the same two frame houses but brick structures had begun popping up in the neighborhood. Also, the blocks were renumbered in the three-year span between maps.

Speaking of fire, the 1899 Sanborn map shows the dwelling north of the corner was vacant and badly burnt. That former residence was demolished prior to the publication of the 1905 Sanborn. The house on the corner was then removed to make way for a bigger and better Home Steam Laundry.

The Globe-Republican, October 10, 1907

J. S. Black sold the laundry in January of 1908 to Charles Collins and E. E. Phillips of Larned. The building at Third and Chestnut was ready in June. About this time, it was generally referred to as Dodge City Steam Laundry but occasionally, the papers would still mention Home Steam Laundry.

The Bucklin Banner, July 9, 1908

By September, Mann’s Photo Gallery had moved into the room on the west end of the second floor.

The Globe-Republican, September 17, 1908

In October of 1908, E. E. Phillips discovered his partner, C. E. Collins, hadn’t been depositing funds into the business bank account and bills were not being paid. He demanded a full accounting and Mr. Collins left town. Otto Theis and U. G. Balderson bought the laundry the following month.

The Globe-Republican, February 25, 1909

In August of 1909, The World Brotherhood moved across the street from their previous location in Chalk Beeson’s building at the southeast corner of Third and Chestnut.

The World Brotherhood, August 13, 1909

The 1911 Sanborn shows a downtown area that had been completely transformed. You may have noticed in the ad above that the blocks had also been renumbered again. The 1926 Sanborn was the last map to include Dodge City Steam Laundry at Third and Chestnut. A building permit was issued to U. G. Balderson in January of 1927 for a new one-story laundry building at 611-619 West Chestnut Street.

Jack Voorhies opened an auto repair shop in the old laundry in October of 1929.

The Dodge City Journal, October 24, 1929
The Dodge City Journal, October 31, 1929

The 1932 Sanborn shows a filling station at 318 West Chestnut Street and a small store at 316. Since it’s a black and white pdf, I have included a screenshot to save your eyes.

I had initially assumed the current building had replaced the one which had housed the laundry but when I compare the 1926 and 1932 maps, it is clear they are the same structure. The main floor had simply been opened up to allow vehicles to drive through the filling station. This was confirmed by the county website, which indicates the building dates back to 1908.

By 1937, that corner was home to Schneider Service Station #1 and Dine-A-Mite Cafe was at 316 West Chestnut.

1939 Post Card

Now is probably a good time to remind you of how jacked up the addresses for this block were/are. The current address for the business on that corner is 320 W Wyatt Earp Boulevard, which would make the spot labeled as a store 318. But the 1932 map above clearly shows the building as 318-316. I have no idea when exactly the numbers changed. Because the post card is so cute, I’m going to say it was in the Golden Kue building…but if I’m being honest, it totally could have been another door to the east.

The 1947 directory gives us a bit more clarity; Daniel Service Station was located at 320 West Chestnut Street and Allphin Bar was next door at 318. Does the Allphin name sound familiar? It should!

There really was a ton of turnover at a corner with a ton of visibility. In 1953, Alvin Petersen had Al’s Cities Service there that included “Cities Service Products, Washing, Lubrication, and Tow-In Service.” There was a renter in an upstairs apartment but that was it. It looks like that was the last time a service station operated on the corner of Third and Chestnut.

C. Ray Hopper and Keith Koehn operated Service Electric there from 1955 to 1959 and then the building kind of hit the skids. It was completely vacant from 1960 until Clarette Kimbrel opened the Real Kurl Beauty Salon upstairs sometime in 1962.

In the mid-1960s, Carl Allphin opened Golden Kue Billiards. Remember, the front area of the building was turned into a triangle so it was a small place. I remember seeing vehicles parked where the pumps had been but I don’t think it lasted through all of the 1970s. Mr. Allphin died in July of 1982 at age 90.

This is what the building looked like when I was a kid:

If I remember correctly, it was painted a sickly pale lime green color that could have been hospital surplus paint. Back then, it was kind of a sketchy area. Since it was on our way home from daycare, I spent quite a bit of time staring at it while my mom was stuck at that damned stop sign waiting to turn left onto Wyatt Earp. Like, the color was so bad it was mesmerizing.

The Pizza Hut opened around the summer of 1990. It has been remodeled several times since then and expanded to fill the space at the north end where another beauty shop had been.

Here are some photos I took a while back:

The building no longer looks like it will topple over with the slightest breeze…which is nice.

UPDATE November 3, 2022: I was recently sent this photo of the Golden Kue which was taken in 1970. You can see the Front Street demolition in the foreground. Terrific find!

Photo courtesy of Paul Kornechuk III

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Goddard’s Women’s Wear Then and Now

212 West Chestnut Street / Wyatt Earp Boulevard

Goddard’s was a Dodge City institution and I was shocked when it closed. I was also shocked to find out what the building actually looked like once that horrible metal siding was removed. It’s true…I do reject much of modernity.

Because of its historic location, I wondered what had been in that spot before Goddard’s. The county website shows the current building was constructed in 1909. I’m no expert but I don’t see how that can be possible. It just looks very frail. I’m sure the bricks were damaged by the siding but they really look old and worn down, especially when you compare them to the Mosher & Cochran building to the west, which received a new brick veneer after the Bee Hive was sold.

When I started looking at the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, I had to remind myself that this block was renumbered a few times. For context, the 1884 Sanborn shows a wood frame dwelling with an address of 305 Chestnut.

Former Chalk Beeson business partner and postmaster James A Arment had a paint shop in the future Goddard’s location that burned in December of 1885.

The Globe Live-Stock Journal, December 15, 1885

By 1887, there was a brick building in that spot that was numbered 301 Chestnut. At that time, there was a drug store and a jewelry store on the main floor with offices above. After studying every map available, I’m saying the structure was built between 1886 and 1887 and would love it if one of you could fact check my amateur assessment.

The Dodge City Democrat, January 22, 1887

The real estate office of E. T. Brockman and Co. moved into an upstairs office in April of 1887 and the jeweler referenced on the map was H. J. Dunlap. The architectural firm of Weston & Manning occupied Room 4.

Cash O Waring and his family moved to Dodge from Cardington, Ohio in 1888 and their shoe store was initially called J. B. Waring and Son. They apparently had a giant boot outside their store that was painted bright red.

The Dodge City Times, March 14, 1889

Dr. S. Jay Crumbine’s office was located above the shoe store beginning in May of 1891.

The Dodge City Times, July 24, 1891

J. B. Waring’s health wasn’t great and Cash took over a few years before his father died from “sugar diabetes.”

The Globe-Republican, December 24, 1891

The 1892 Sanborn shows “B & S” on the main floor and offices above still with an address of 301 Chestnut and the 1899 map showed the same. It wasn’t until I started reviewing the newspapers that I realized the maps were saying “Boots!” and “Shoes!”

I noticed an interesting detail on the 1905 map. There is a notation near the northwest corner of the building that it was “badly cracked.”

The Waring and Miller families were related by marriage and William B Miller joined the store as a junior partner.

The Globe-Republican, May 27, 1909

The 1911 map shows both the old address of 301 Chestnut and the new/current number of 212 West Chestnut, still home to “B & S.”

Will Miller sold his interest in the store in January of 1914 and moved his family to San Diego. Three months later, Cash Waring put his house on the market. Waring sold the business to J. P. Holbert in May of 1914. Actually, Waring traded the store and his residence for Holbert’s place in California.

Dodge City Daily Globe, July 31, 1916

Hardin Ebey’s law office was located above the shoe store in 1916 along with the Fashion Shop, which did cleaning, pressing, and tailoring. Leave it to our good friend, Frank Locke, to save the day.

The Dodge City Globe, October 26, 1916

J. P. Holbert sold the shoe store stock in October of 1916 and Southwest National Bank opened at 212 West Chestnut Street on November 20. Fixtures from the old Kansas State Bank building were purchased and moved into this new location. As an aside, the Holbert affair was quite interesting. He also sold his house and everything in it so he could take his family on a tour of the western US for a few months before resettling in California.

Dodge City Daily Journal, November 15, 1916

Interestingly, B. F. Zimmerman (the O. G.) was Assistant Cashier at Southwest National Bank prior to accepting the same job at the Kansas State Bank, which later became Fidelity State Bank and Trust Company. Fidelity currently owns the building we’re studying. It’s a small town, y’all.

Numerous articles about these changes listed the address as 214 Chestnut but none of the early maps or directories show this address ever existing. Troy Robinson’s former photo studio directly to the west has 214 on the door. I believe Troy wrote about the weirdness of the addresses for the first floor of that building being on Second Avenue but the upper floor is assigned to Wyatt Earp Boulevard because of the side door.

The 1918 Sanborn shows a bank on the main floor with a sign painting business (Dodge City Sign Works) above. The bank later moved to the corner of Second Avenue and Chestnut Street. The Hub Clothing Store, which had been around forever, moved into the bank’s old spot in July of 1918.

A. G. Triplett (manager for several years) and Earl Gardner of Salina purchased The Hub in September of 1919. After a fire at the previous location in the Gwinner Building, Aikin’s Studio began occupying the entire second floor in January of 1920.

The Dodge City Journal, October 27, 1921

Earl Gardner died in March of 1924 and William H Gardner assumed his spot in the partnership. Triplett sold his interest in The Hub to Gardner and R. D. Barekman (Gardner’s son-in-law) in February of 1925. A. L. Lyon bought into the business in August of 1925.

A fire which originated in the furnace room caused smoke damage to their entire stock in 1926, which appeared to be the end of The Hub Clothing Co. The 1926 Sanborn simply shows a store at the location. By 1928, the space was home to Miller Clothing Co.

In January of 1931, The Pollock, Mapel & Beck Shoe Company was formed with $7,000 of capital by John Pollock and his son-in-law, Frank Mapel. Their shoe store was located at 212 W Chestnut Street but they had previously operated a grocery store in Greensburg.

I’m finally able to share an item of interest from The Dog Robber! Lee Lippmann was previously manager of Levinson’s Ladies Ready to Wear and Shoes at 502 N Second Avenue. Levinson’s was a small Kansas chain that started in El Dorado. This will be relevant later.

The Dog Robber, November 1931

I never did see anything about the Beck referenced in the company name. Perhaps the Beck was silent.

Hodgeman County News, October 13, 1932

Regardless, the shoe store remained in the same location until at least 1937.

So back to Lee Lippmann. He worked at Levinson’s as early as 1930 and his wife, Jeannette, also worked there. Herman Levinson died in August of 1939 and the 1940 Federal Census shows Lee Lippmann owned a ready-to-wear ladies store so I’m guessing Levinson’s became Lippmann’s at that time. Mrs. Levinson initially put out a statement regarding the Hutchinson store saying operations would continue after Herman’s death but that location was sold within a year or two. Jeannette was the buyer for the Lippmann’s store.

I’ve read in a couple places that Earl Goddard bought Lippmann’s Ladies Ready to Wear in 1945 but I also found ads for Lippmann’s from 1947 to 1949. It’s entirely possible that the name was changed later and I do know the Lippmanns relocated to Baltimore.

Dodge City’s Diamond Jubilee Souvenir, 1947, published by the Dodge City Chamber of Commerce
1947 City Directory and Business and Professional Guide for Dodge City, Kansas
The Advance Register, December 16, 1949

I started seeing directory listings for Goddard’s in 1950 and the newly released Federal Census from that year does show Earl Goddard owning a clothing store.

Dodge City Daily Globe Special Travelers’ Section, 1960
Polk’s Dodge City (Ford County, Kansas) Directory, 1961

Apologies for the crappy angle on this one but you can see the Goddard’s sign on the left where the metal storefronts begin.

Photographer Unknown

Earl Goddard died in 1997 and his wife, Sue, died in 2002. Their daughter, Carolyn, ran the store until it closed around 2005. From what I can recall, there hasn’t been a retail store in this location since. The display windows usually contain tourist information and exhibits.

Photo by Troy Robinson

Here’s a photo I took of the store a while back. You can still see the Goddard lowercase logos in the storefront.

I would love to know the story behind those art deco-esque accents and how anyone would consider covering them up with metal. These old buildings need to be allowed to show their age.

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Eckles Empire Then and Now

I know what you’re thinking. ANOTHER Eckles post?! Yes. There were so many Eckles ventures in Dodge City that I could do a whole series on them alone. If you’re new to the site, I touched on the Eckles Department Store building here and here.

If you’re from Dodge, you probably already know the “Eckles Brothers” were Charles and George Eckles from Eskridge, Kansas. Charles came to Dodge in December of 1911 and managed the York-Key Mercantile Company.

I don’t know the whole story but in September of 1911, there was a huge fire at the store. D. J. Phillips was the manager and he had been out ill for several days. When he received the telephone call about the fire, he ran all the way from his house on Avenue A to the store at 207 West Chestnut Street and then he passed out. He was subsequently confined to his bed for a few more days. The fire took a couple hours to extinguish and the loss was estimated to be from two-thirds to three-fourths of the stock.

The store was remodeled and by December, Mr. Phillips and his family had moved to Houston. The newspaper article said it would be a “more gentle climate.” His replacement was Charles Eckles.

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, February 9, 1912

So they had just finished remodeling after a devastating fire and then it happened again! In March of 1912, there was an explosion that damaged nearly $80,000 worth of property among the affected structures. The opera house roof made liftoff and the York-Key and several other buildings were heavily damaged. The 1911 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the opera house at the northwest corner of First Avenue and (North) Front Street. The York-Key was only two walls over to the west.

That was enough for owner F. B. York of St. Louis. Brothers Charles and George bought the York-Key in April of 1912, with George’s position at the store being effective July 1. The Eckles Dry Goods Company was formed May 8, 1912. A son, Park, was born to George and his wife, Lora, 20 days later.

The Dodge City Daily Globe, June 26, 1912

The York-Key Company had retained ownership of the building when they sold the dry goods store. The Eckles brothers bought the building in March of 1916 with plans for an extensive modernization project. You guys…they wanted to put glass in the sidewalks! In Dodge City!

Dodge City Daily Globe, May 3, 1916
Dodge City Journal, November 6, 1919

Jack Eckles was born to Charles and Esther (Weyand) Eckles in May of 1921. After World War II, he would return home to work at the store. He also married the talented artist, Murry Stark.

Etrick’s 1924 Ford County Directory

Charles and George Eckles bought the Bargain Store building at the southwest corner of Second Avenue and Walnut Street as well as all of the stock and fixtures for $125,000 in February of 1926. Eckles Brothers Dry Goods became Eckles Brothers Department Store.

The Southwest News, February 4, 1926

The plan was to remodel the building after the sale was completed and have dry goods, shoes, and men’s clothing on the first floor. A new mezzanine level would be home to bookkeeping, cashiers, and owners’ offices, plus a beauty parlor. All of the ladieswear and accompanying goods were planned for the second floor and finally, they were continuing with their bargain basement.

W. H. Harpole bought the old Eckles Dry Goods building at 207 West Chestnut Street for about $30,000 in April of 1926. In 1928, that building housed the Piggly Wiggly and by 1937, it was home to Innes Furniture Exchange. It was probably best known as 20th Century Bowling, however, before ultimately becoming a victim to the Urban Renewal madness you’ve seen me complain about repeatedly.

In 1929, the Eckles brothers built the Vinehurst Apartments with retail spaces on the first floor and apartments above.

The Dodge City Journal, January 9, 1930

I’m not sure about the architect but the building was constructed by Jules N Parham, who was a prolific builder in Dodge. Here’s where I get severely confused. The 1942 Ford County Directory, which was retyped by volunteers, listed the Vinehurst Apartments (managed by Mrs. Lola Slater) at 205 West Vine Street. If you look at the 1926 Sanborn Map, this doesn’t make any sense. Same thing with the 1932 Sanborn. Here’s a screenshot:

The dwelling labeled “207” above existed prior to 1929. Here’s a current photo of the north end of 722 N Second Avenue showing the entrance labeled “207.”

Photo by Jan Shaw

The block was clearly renumbered but I have no idea when. Anyway, I’m pretty sure that’s the location. The retail spaces have been home to Busley Brothers Grocery #2, National Home & Auto Store, Peoples National Gas Company, Campbell Pharmacy, Krey & McCook Agency, and many more.

Word on the street at the beginning of 1930 was the Eckles brothers were building a hotel. It was to be a five-story, $250,000 “skyscraper” next to First National Bank. I have no idea what happened to those plans but they obviously never materialized.

The Dodge City Journal, February 13, 1930

I won’t delve any further into the family tree because this post would never end but just know that virtually every child and grandchild worked at the store and it honestly seemed like a requirement to be part of the family.

Eckles Department Store Company, Inc. was formed on January 25, 1946. I’m assuming this change marked the beginning of the second generation’s management of the store. In 1947, the department store carried musical instruments, sheet music, records, cameras, and hardware in addition to the standard items you might expect.

Farm Directory, Ford-Gray Counties, Kansas, 1948
The Hutchinson News-Herald, June 25, 1950
The Wichita Eagle, December 12, 1953
Garden City Telegram, December 7, 1955

For many years, all of the Eckles products were sold under one roof. At some point, the music department was relocated to a one-story building directly behind the department store with frontage on Walnut/Gunsmoke Street. The luggage and appliance departments were also moved to a separate space on West Chestnut Street.

Photo by Hoover Cott
Special Traveler’s Edition, Dodge City Daily Globe, 1960
Dodge City Daily Globe, July 1961

The Nevins Hardware Company at 305 West Chestnut Street/Wyatt Earp Boulevard was sold to the proprietors of the Eckles Department Store in February of 1963. In the photo below, you can see the Nevins Hardware store on the right, just past Fowler Furniture. On the left are the signs for Eckles Appliances and Luggage.

Photo by Hoover Cott

You may recall that Charles Eckles married Esther Weyand and the sign for Weyand Seeds is also visible in the photo above.

There was a fire at Fowler Furniture in 1964 and the photos below show the Eckles Hardware signs at both the Wyatt Earp Boulevard and Front Street entrances.

In 1967, the hardware store was managed by Roy Schonhoff. For a long time, cousins Jack and Park owned the stores. When Park retired, he sold his interest in the store to Jack. Not long after, it was time for the third generation to manage the operations.

I don’t remember 1 Door South but my mom said they had cute clothes. It was apparently for the younger generation because they were selling concert tickets there in the mid-1970s. I assume it closed around the time I started kindergarten but that’s literally just a guess.

Special Travelers’ Edition, Dodge City Daily Globe, 1970

I also don’t remember the luggage and appliance store. In the photo below, you can just barely make out the old Eckles logo three buildings down from the Golden Kue, next to Southwest Photo.

Photo by Troy Robinson

I briefly mentioned that Jack’s wife, Murry was a talented artist and that’s really a gross understatement. In addition to creating art, she taught and wrote books to help others with their artistic endeavors for many years. Murry Eckles, Inc. was formed on April 27, 1978.

The Daily News of Johnson County, Kansas, March 21, 1984

Murry had an arts and crafts shop where she held classes in the basement of the department store building called Happiness is…

I won’t rehash the closing of Eckles Department Store but I will reiterate that it sucked, and not just because I missed riding the elevator with my grandmother. In August of 1985, the new Eckles Main Street Centre had 19 shops, boutiques, and restaurants. Eckles Department Store Company, Inc. was dissolved in January of 1998.

Here are some photos I took of the Eckles Department Store building a while back:

This is the old Eckles Music building:

This is the site of the Vinehurst Apartments:

Here is the spot where 1 Door South was located:

This is where the Eckles Appliances and Luggage store was located, under the Iron Insurance Partners sign:

And of course, the Eckles Hardware building was demolished during the Urban Renewal craze.

It’s impossible to overstate the impact the Eckles family had on Dodge City. The family was deeply invested in the community for generations and should be recognized for their contributions. I’m sure I’ve missed some important details so feel free to add them in the comments.

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Davidson Grain Co. Then and Now

501 Sunnyside Avenue

Sunnyside kids should be very familiar with this one, even if you don’t recognize the name. I’ve been terrified of this place since about 1981. You know how kids are. There were stories about people being murdered in the abandoned elevator north of the school. So we would be out there on the playground looking at this dreary place (pre-colorful graffiti) with tattered plastic sheeting blowing out of the upper windows and telling tall tales of murder and mayhem. As kids do.

When Raymond C Davidson built a new elevator at what was then Fourth Street and a county road, it was really in the middle of nowhere.

Dodge City Daily Globe, June 3, 1915

I have to assume Mr. Davidson was instrumental in bringing electricity to South Dodge.

Dodge City Daily Globe, September 18, 1915

Bernard Askew of Macksville was the manager of the Dodge facility. This poor guy had no idea what he was getting himself into.

Dodge City Daily Globe, September 8, 1915
Dodge City Daily Globe, March 7, 1916

Here’s a plat map from 1916 showing where the CRI&P split off from the Santa Fe Railroad and Sunnyside was still a county road. Fourth Street was later renamed Sycamore Street. You can see the main line and the siding for the grain elevator.

Crop conditions were terrible in 1917 but for wheat prices to increase by more than a dollar in less than two months back then was still ca-razy.

Dodge City Daily Journal, March 28, 1917
Dodge City Daily Globe, May 12, 1917

We were at war and this was really bad timing for such high failure rates.

Dodge City Daily Globe, May 18, 1917

Speaking of war, Mr. Askew was a sergeant with the 110th Military Police and deployed to Europe in May of 1918. It is unclear who took over his duties at the elevator while he was in service of Uncle Sam. Although he briefly owned property in Dodge after returning from the war, he was living in Macksville again by 1922.

In 1920, the county directory simply listed Davidson Elevator in South Dodge, while in 1924 it was merely “S D.”

The American Elevator and Grain Trade, September 15, 1924

Although the facility was built in 1915, it didn’t appear on a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map until 1932. Page 17 begins with the railroad tracks and omits Sycamore Street so it’s kind of difficult to place the location if you haven’t spent a lot of time there. The elevator still stands along the old Rock Island Line at Sunnyside and Sycamore.

The two youths referenced in this story were Virgil Counterman (15) and Ralph Wright (12). Both were convicted and Counterman was committed to the boys’ industrial school in Topeka. Wright was paroled to the Salvation Army in Hutchinson. Counterman told police he had stolen eight cars. He had previously been a resident of Dodge and had been sent to the same school in Topeka while he lived here. I’ll refrain from sharing my opinions about kids learning to be criminals from our backwards system.

The Hutchinson News-Herald, February 6, 1949
The Hutchinson News-Herald, July 17, 1949

The grain elevator’s position on the Rock Island Line became a serious weakness as the railroad took a nosedive into nonexistence.

The Iola Register, January 1, 1960

Just for funzies, here’s a photo of the Rock Island Depot that sat between John Deere Plow Co. and the Guymon-Petro building before being moved to Avenue A for use as a residence.

Photographer Unknown

Anyway, Davidson Grain Company closed up shop in Dodge City sometime between 1962 and 1967. R. C. Davidson died June 17, 1983 and his son, R. C. “Bus” Davidson, Jr. followed on February 26, 1989 at the age of 70.

The Google Maps satellite view clearly shows where the office and scale were located.

Here’s how the facility looks now:

Here are some bonus images of the former US Army locomotive (RPCX 6601) painted for the DCF&B by Harold Reardon:

I remember seeing people in and out of the elevator during the early 1980s but I couldn’t tell you if there was an actual business operating there. It isn’t well secured at all and it’s obvious people have been inside recently but you couldn’t pay me enough to go in there. I don’t want to be the murderer’s next victim.

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Bee Hive Store Then and Now

I wish I could remember where I saw it but an article was published a while ago about the Bee Hive store and the author couldn’t determine who had owned it in the beginning. While researching other businesses, I’ve run across tons of advertising for this store so I thought it would be fun to see if I could figure it out.

The building across from the Wright House, which had previously housed the Ford County Globe, had been sold by Morris Collar to A. H. Snyder in August of 1882. Snyder was in construction and mining, though, so I don’t believe he ever operated a dry goods store. I think he was just investing in real estate.

It doesn’t seem like the storefront was occupied for a while because the Presbyterian Church hosted a Christmas dinner there in 1883. And if it was related to the Presbyterian Church, you could bet my great-great-grandmother was involved!

The Dodge City Times, December 20, 1883

1884 was a weird year for the Snyder building. In February, it was to house a saddlery and a furniture store. You’ll see the Dunn name at this location again later.

The Dodge City Democrat, February 23, 1884

Dunn had moved into the furniture store spot by March 1 but then consolidated with McVeigh and Kirkpatrick to form Dunn and Kirkpatrick later in 1884. But then there was suddenly a new dry goods store without a name. None of the ads I found mentioned a business name or proprietors. I only found a quick note about a “party from Denver” and their “stock of notions” going in there.

The Dodge City Democrat, August 16, 1884

There was a Roworth and Veatch in Pueblo, Colorado but I’m not sure if they had a presence in Denver. Henry Jabez Strange (from Colorado) and John James Summersby arrived in Dodge City in 1884 and in September, they bought the dry goods store of Roworth and Veatch.

The Dodge City Democrat, September 13, 1884

Here is the first ad I was able to find for the Bee Hive:

The Globe Live Stock Journal, September 23, 1884

The Bee Hive advertised everything from dress goods to dry goods to table linens to shoes. The 1884 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the Wright House at the northwest corner of Chestnut Street and Bridge/Second Avenue. That would place the Bee Hive across the street at what was then 723 Second Avenue.

The Dodge City Times, January 22, 1885

In March of 1885, the Bee Hive was “comfortably quartered one door below their old stand.” It would have been simpler to just say the new location was on the ground floor. Fires were a constant problem in those days and it appears the store got an assist from the locals that December.

The Dodge City Times, December 3, 1885

The Bee Hive moved to temporary quarters in the bank building while awaiting the completion of the brick Sitler Building on Bridge/Second Avenue. At this time, Bridge Avenue covered the area north to roughly Walnut Street and it was called Second Avenue further north. It really depended on the map, though. And people just called it whatever. The new home of the Bee Hive was on the east side of Bridge Avenue between Walnut (Gunsmoke) and Spruce Streets. On the 1887 Sanborn Map, the street number was 813 but today it would be the equivalent of 606 N Second Avenue.

The game of musical chairs continued and the Bee Hive moved again in August of 1886.

Wilburn Argus, August 20, 1886

This time, they moved back to their old corner of Second and Chestnut after a new brick building was constructed. This article references a queensware shop to the north of the Bee Hive and the 1887 Sanborn Map shows one next to a dry good and clothing store at that location.

The Dodge City Democrat, September 11, 1886

I also found an announcement about the O. K. Barbershop opening in the basement of the Bee Hive and the 1887 Sanborn Map shows a barbershop in the basement of that building, which had been renumbered 805 Second Avenue. There was also a bath house in the basement.

In March of 1887, the Bee Hive added dressmaking to their repertoire with Minnie Horn in charge of designing and cutting.

The Globe Live Stock Journal, July 26, 1887

In August of 1887, Dr. O. H. Simpson moved his dental office into the front rooms above the Bee Hive.

The Dodge City Times, September 20, 1887
The Dodge City Times, February 9, 1888
The Globe-Republican, October 29, 1890

In November of 1890, the Bee Hive was so busy Strange and Summersby were forced to hire additional staff to properly greet all of their customers. In February of 1891, the store was expanded into the north end of the building. The 1892 Sanborn Map shows dry goods and clothing in the south room and clothing in the north room as well as the businesses on the second floor.

The Globe-Republican, October 28, 1892

In May of 1893, Strange and Summersby expanded again. A hole was cut in the ceiling to provide indoor stairway access to the upstairs room where the Phenix Industrial Club had previously been located.

My great-great-grandfather arrested two ill-mannered individuals who stole merchandise from the Bee Hive in April of 1894.

The Globe-Republican, April 20, 1894.
The Globe-Republican, November 30, 1894
The Ford County Leader, November 15, 1895

In October of 1896, Strange and Summersby announced their exit from the clothing business. It seems like they may have later reconsidered.

The Globe-Republican, October 1, 1896

The Bee Hive was awarded a six-month contract to provide dry goods to the State Soldiers’ Home at Fort Dodge in December of 1897.

Western Kansas Live Stock Journal, February 1, 1900

Is it just me or does a lighting system with *gasoline* running through it seem much more dangerous than electricity?

The Dodge City Democrat, January 25, 1901

In December of 1902, Summersby sold his interest in the Bee Hive to George T Martin, who had managed the store for some time. Originally from Kentucky, Mr. Martin arrived in Dodge City in 1881 and worked for Wright and Beverly, then York, Parker, and Draper. The new firm’s name was Strange and Martin. George’s brother, John, moved with his family from Great Bend to work at the Bee Hive.

The Globe-Republican, December 25, 1902
The Globe-Republican, March 12, 1903
The Journal-Democrat, May 18, 1906

George Martin obtained full ownership of the Bee Hive in May of 1906. H. J. Strange had been in poor health for several years and he moved with his family to Denver, hoping the climate would aid in his recovery.

The Globe-Republican, June 28, 1906
The Globe-Republican, May 6, 1909
The Dodge City Globe, December 29, 1910

The 1911 Sanborn Map shows Second Avenue was renumbered and the Bee Hive went from 805-806 to 500-502 Second Avenue, which are the current numbers for that building.

In 1912, the Bee Hive had a telephone line installed and the store was assigned lucky number 13.

The Dodge City Kansas Journal, July 26, 1912

George Cochran bought the Bee Hive building in February of 1913 and announced plans to move the Mosher and Cochran Drug Store to that location once the Bee Hive’s lease expired…in four and a half years. He also planned to install a new front on the building to make it look more modern. When the reporter asked George Martin whether he had considered buying the building, he said he expected the Bee Hive to outgrow the space before the end of the lease term. By February of 1914, his prediction seemed pretty accurate.

The Dodge City Daily Globe, February 10, 1914

Now this is fascinating. In July of 1914, the Bee Hive offered $1.10 for each silver dollar received. The Federal Reserve was created on December 23, 1913. Coincidence? I think not.

The Dodge City Globe, July 2, 1914

You may recall from previous posts that there are several buildings listed with incorrect dates of construction on the county website. This building is no exception; The county says it was built in 1915 but the Bee Hive had clearly occupied it since 1886 and was still there in 1916.

Dodge City Daily Globe, February 18, 1916

George Martin sold the Bee Hive to Frank Dunn of Garden City in December of 1916 with Dunn taking over the store January 1, 1917. Remember the Dunn furniture store back in 1884? Mr. Dunn immediately began remodeling the north room of the building. An automatic elevator was installed! The basement was finished and the storefront was modernized with plate glass. The most notable change, however, was the name. After more than 30 years, this was the end of the Bee Hive.

Dodge City Daily Globe, January 2, 1917

George Cochran made plans to move the Mosher and Cochran Drug Store into the south room of the building as soon as the Dunn’s space could be remodeled. I believe that was the last time the two sides of the building were occupied by one business. In addition, I have read that George Cochran tore down the Bee Hive building and put up a new one but it was only an assumption on the part of the author. The building was heavily remodeled with a new brick veneer but it appears to be the same structure. On the 1918 Sanborn Map, you can see the drug store on the corner of Second and Chestnut with the dry goods store just to the north.

In this post card, you can see the WWI memorial that was on Second Avenue as well as the Mosher and Cochran Drug Store on the northeast corner.

Photographer Unknown

By 1928, Dunn’s Dry Goods had moved to 308 W Chestnut and the space at 502 Second Avenue became home to Levinson’s Ladies Ready-to-Wear.

Photographer Unknown

By 1947, Burke’s Shoes was listed at 502 Second Avenue and they were there for-EVER. Literally! Or at least until 1994-ish. In this postcard, you can just barely make out the Burke’s sign on the right.

Photographer Unknown

502 N Second Avenue is now home to Dulceria La Chiquita.

Mosher & Cochran stayed on that corner until about 1965, although Charles Ashley Mosher died in November of 1949 and George Daniel Cochran in October of 1960. Brown’s Shoe Fit opened in 1965 at the corner of Second Avenue and Wyatt Earp Boulevard and stayed there until 1997, when the business moved to Comanche Plaza. Since then, the corner has housed Trails West, Flowers by Irene, and now Yogi’s Vape Shop.

Here are some photos I took around Christmas last year:

I had never heard of the Bee Hive until I started looking through old newspapers for completely unrelated stories. It’s fun to see how journalism and advertising have evolved over the past 130-plus years. We tend to assume the sales and reporting techniques we’re so familiar with now are much more modern than they actually are.

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South Dodge Entertainment Then and Now

My grandmother loved to dance and roller skate. There wasn’t much going on in the area around the Beeson House while Irene was growing up but she could enjoy two of her favorite activities right across the street.

“Jim McDowell opened a dance hall in a vacant garage (large) across the street from our house. 10 cents a dance with live bands, open Wednesday and Saturday nights. Some Saturdays, it would last ’til dawn…known as a Sunrise Dance. The parking lot would be covered with whiskey bottles. Some of the bottles were fancy. I met my first girl friend there. Girls came with their parents. One eve a good-looking young man asked me to dance but I was too shy. Wished later I had.”

Irene Beeson

Jim McDowell was the former Ford County Weed Supervisor who died in 1980. In 1930, he rented a room from my great-grandparents at the Beeson House. Jim’s occupation was listed on the 1930 Federal Census as manager of a public dance hall, working on his own account.

The vacant garage in question was Percy Orval Riley’s Sunnyside Garage, which may have previously occupied a location on South Second Avenue but I’m not completely sure about that. Irene’s best friend while she was in grade school was Florene Riley, who was Percy’s much-younger sister. Incidentally, Florene married Cecil Metcalf and was Barry’s mother, for those of you who are Dodge locals.

The Southwest News, October 29, 1925
The Southwest News, November 5, 1925

The first Sanborn Fire Insurance Map to include the northeast corner of what is now Beeson Road and Sunnyside Avenue was published in 1932. It’s a black and white PDF so I’ve included screenshots of Pages 1 and17 here.

This image from Page 17 is great until you start wondering what the heck Highway 45 was.

The map below kind of made me think it was actually showing McArtor Road (formerly Hwy 56) but it’s definitely what is now Beeson Road. All you have to do is look on a current map at where the railroad tracks cross 14th Street and it’s obvious. Plus, the 1930 Federal Census lists the Beeson House on “Township Highway.” Now we’ve all learned something.

In 1928, Riley Garage was listed on “Beeson Highway” but it moved to a new spot at 613 Sunnyside Avenue, which is where Poor Boy Kustomz is currently located. That building was dark green with white doors for many years, if I remember correctly. Percy and his wife, Alice, lived next door at 615 Sunnyside. The house which occupied that lot has been gone for several decades. His mother, Flora, lived on the other side of the building at 611 Sunnyside. Cecil and Florene (Riley) Metcalf lived a few houses south at 707 Sunnyside. At one point, the Riley family owned all of those lots.

Anyway, the dance hall became a roller skating rink while Irene was in high school (Class of 1940.) I’m not sure if it was ever opened as a public rink or if Irene and her friends just found a way inside and skated on the maple floor. I do remember her saying holes in the roof eventually allowed rain to ruin the floor and their fun. Here she is posing out front along Sunnyside and facing south.

Photographer Unknown

In the background, you can see the porch roof of the house that is still located at 708 Sunnyside Avenue. When I was a kid, I skated at the rink up on the bypass and it had concrete floors so I was amazed when she told me she skated on wood floors. It seemed so sketchy to me for some reason.

There was no business listing there by 1947 and it seems like it was torn down in the 1950s. The lot was really junky for a long time and then someone came in and cleaned it up maybe in the late 1980s or early ’90s. The satellite view on Google Maps still shows a clear outline of the foundation.

Here are a few photos I took recently:

Speaking of skates, I rolled around on these white ones throughout my childhood. Then I carried them around with me from state to state for decades until finally surrendering them to my cousin in their original box. Roller skates are serious business.

Photographer Unknown

Here’s some bonus content. I labeled this photo “skating rink” while Irene was still alive but I was studying the sign a couple days ago and thought I must have been mistaken. It looks like it’s a cafe so why would I think it was a skating rink? Well, if you look between the “CA” and “FOUNTAIN,” you will notice “PUNCH BROWN” in faded letters.

(L to R): Mary Jane Heft, Eleanor Sage, Irene Beeson – Photographer Unknown

That seems kind of weird unless you know that Punch Brown ran a skating rink! He had been undersheriff of Finney County circa 1917 and then relocated to Dodge City. In 1925, he opened a skating rink in the Merchants Pavilion on the west side of Second Avenue at Water Street.

The Southwest News, October 22, 1925

Not to be confused with the Hoover Pavilion, which was built in 1919, the Merchants Pavilion was constructed by the City of Dodge City in 1925 initially to house exhibitors’ booths at the Great Southwest Fair. When Punch Brown converted the building to a skating rink, he also added a separate dance floor. The idea was for the building to be used for dancing and skating during the winter and then booths could be brought back in for the fair each year. The 1926 Sanborn Map shows both pavilions as well as the surrounding structures.

The facility ended up hosting all sorts of events.

The Southwest News, March 25, 1926
The Hutchinson News, May 28, 1927

The City decided to sell the pavilion in 1929 to fund improvements at Wright Park and the fairgrounds. It’s unclear how exactly that transpired but Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co. was located there in 1937. Mayrath Machinery Company was in this building in 1945.

Dodge City Daily Globe, October 20, 1945

I think Mayrath may have been there a touch earlier because Dodge flooded in 1942 and the Minneapolis Moline sign can be seen in this photo. Someone else will have to decide if that year jives with the cars. That is not my department!

Photo by Red Miller

The building appears to have been vacant by at least 1947. By 1957, the building was home to Nufer-Stremel Used Cars. Now this is how you sell cars!

Great Bend Daily Tribune, August 5, 1958

That business morphed into Nufer-Hutton Used Cars by 1961. I can’t remember ever seeing a building in that spot. It makes me wonder if it was a victim of the 1965 flood.

The Google Maps satellite view makes it easy to see where the building was situated just south of Overhead Door.

Unfortunately, I didn’t grab any photos of this location while I was in Dodge this last time because I had no idea where this post would take me. If anyone knows for sure how the Merchants Pavilion story ended, please leave a comment!

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Bloom High School Then and Now

It is such a trip to walk through a completely obliterated building and see floor tiles still affixed to the concrete. Most people in Ford County, Kansas are well aware that the entrance to the Bloom High School is all that is left standing. I remember when it was taken down but I never really knew much about the town…other than it hadn’t been incorporated in ages.

Photographer Unknown

Bloom was established in 1887. It was never going to be a thriving metropolis but its position on the Rock Island Line ensured at least some commercial activity, including a weekly newspaper.

The Weekly Telegram, July 25, 1889

In April of 1889, the Bloom School had about 20 pupils attending class. In 1915, the two-room schoolhouse held 39 students. They weren’t breaking any records. By comparison, the fancy new school in Ford had 128 students at this time. There was a severe drought that just about wiped Bloom off the map. The newspaper died. The post office closed in 1891 and it was actually hauled away in 1894. I’m not sure when the City of Bloom became an unincorporated place but I imagine it was about that time.

Bloom experienced a renaissance in the early aughts, however, and a new post office opened in 1908. Soon, residents were getting their news from a different source.

The Bloom Booster, September 28, 1916

Bloom finally got some attention and organized support for a new school in October of 1916. Initial estimates came in at around $9,000 but we know how that goes.

The Dodge City Globe October 19, 1916

Less than two months later, the cost had risen to $15,000 and voters approved the bond issue.

Dodge City Daily Journal, December 10, 1916

The Bloom Booster, February 15, 1917

Contracts were awarded to Peters & Cobb of Ford for the building and W. F. Polly of Hutchinson for plumbing and heating. The idea was for the new school to be ready for the 1917-18 school year but it never works out that way. Bloom ran into the same problems as other Ford County districts with construction materials being slow to deliver. In July of 1917, the district thought the building might be ready about two weeks into the school year. Seven months later, with an epic typo:

The Bloom Booster, February 14, 1918

The new school had six classrooms, an auditorium with seating for 250, and a gymnasium “large enough for basket ball.” With enrollment at about 30 students, Bloom had high hopes for the future. Unfortunately, the school wasn’t yet accredited because it only offered three years rather than the four required by the state. Parents were unsure whether sending their kids to Bloom would cause their work to go uncredited so the district was under extreme pressure to get that fourth year offered. Then they had an outbreak of influenza in December of 1918.

Bloom peaked in the early 1930s, as many Kansas communities did during the Dust Bowl.

The Spearville News, February 27, 1930

Bloom didn’t have a football team (at least in 1932) so their athletes focused on “base ball” and “basket ball.” The Ford basketball team was actually taking Bloom seriously, which is hilarious…except Bloom marched onto Ford’s home court and beat them 17-12.

The Ford Progress, January 6, 1933

I feel like “wholesale slaughter” might have been a touch hyperbolic but sports reporters are sports reporters.

The Ford Progress, January 13, 1933

Speaking of the Dust Bowl:

The Catholic Advance, September 18, 1937

If you ever want something to be outraged about, peruse employment ads prior to the Civil Rights Act. It’s an HR Manager’s worst nightmare. These ads are fine but holy crap the others are awful.

The Wichita Eagle, February 10, 1956
The Evening Eagle, September 10, 1956

Somewhere along the way, Bloom formed an eight-man football team. That may have been a mistake.

Garden City Telegram, September 16, 1960

The Bloom High School Class of ’64 consisted of eight graduates so I think it was clear the lights would soon be out forever.

The Hays Daily News, May 12, 1964

Bloom’s school district merged with Minneola in 1964 and that was the end of the Bloom Badgers.

Garden City Telegram, January 12, 1965

I really want to know more about these reunions. Are they still a thing? Where are they held? The Bloom Alumni Association was still active in 1996 but that was the last mention I was able to find.

The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, April 29, 1984
The Wichita Eagle-Beacon, October 21, 1984

The Bloom Post Office closed for the last time in March of 1992. I think the Co-op may be the only business left in the community, unless someone has a home-based business. The Rock Island depot is still standing and is a private residence. The Lighthouse Baptist Church still has a presence but I’m unsure if they’re still using the building they put up inside the footprint of the old gymnasium. Seriously. The 2020 Federal Census listed 110 people in all of Bloom Township.

I remember reading about the upcoming demolition of Bloom High School and thinking at the time I should go down there and take some photos. For whatever reason, it didn’t happen. Not only can I not remember when it happened, I can’t remember where I read it. Was it in the Globe? The Banner? Where was I sitting when I read it? No clue! All I know is the article mentioned a decision to leave the entry standing, which was 100% the right call. I really, really love that it’s still there.

The school was definitely demolished prior to June of 2008 because those are the earliest Google Street View images available online and it was already gone.

Searching Globe online archives is borderline impossible bit I did find this story about the gymnasium roof blowing off in November of 2006. Clicking on the story won’t get you anywhere but the photo clearly shows the school buildings were already down. Speaking of the gym, the Lighthouse Baptist Church tried their best to keep the structure intact. They replaced half the roof and most of the flooring back in 2002. It must have been a major gut punch to then have all that work destroyed within four years.

Here’s how the school looks now:

Did the record skip when you compared the old newspaper photo to those I just took? Yeah, same here. That’s definitely not the same entrance from 1918. Everything about it looks much more modern. So what the heck? Sam at the Kansas Heritage Center sent me this photo showing the gymnasium that was added on the north side of the school during the Great Depression. It’s clear that the original school building faced west and the entrance left standing that faces Highway 54 was from a later addition.

Photo courtesy of Kansas Heritage Center

This satellite view from Google Maps clearly shows the church that was constructed inside the old gymnasium. I’m amazed the county issued a building permit for this but I verified that they sure did.

I’m glad I grabbed a few pics of the gymnasium and the debris pile from the original school building. If I had known at the time what all I was looking at, I would have taken more. Because it’s all just piled there where it fell, it’s very difficult to see which areas are safe to step. There are a lot of weeds potentially covering holes and brittle flooring materials…not to mention snakes.

I’ve reached out to the Minneola Public Library and the Minneola High School Library to see if they have any interesting materials but haven’t had any luck. I’ll update this post if I receive any additional information.

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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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