Created By: Wichita History Walk
(This building is across the street from you, on the north corner of Market & Douglas Sts.)
Charles W. and A.W. Bitting came to Wichita in 1877 from Pennsylvania. They owned a clothing store from 1878-1898. They expanded their building and were known for their large collection of books, which they loaned frequently to local readers as they owned more books than the library did at the time. In 1888, they expanded again by tearing down their original building and acquiring the lot next door. This building had the first elevator in the state and featured electric lighting. The Bittings sold their clothing business to Herman and Hess in 1898 but continued in the jewelry and insurance businesses, maintaining offices in the new building.
On New Years Day 1911, a fire erupted and threatened to engulf the entire business district. The fire was fought during a blizzard, where the water froze as it hit the building. This disaster led to the building being torn down and rebuilt yet again - a four-story building was built in its place, and later seven more floors were added.
The new building was designed with the future in mind, and had the first gas pipes of any building in Wichita (despite the fact that gas wouldn’t be available for several more years!). It has been remodeled several times since then and now houses apartments called The Douglas.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Historic Downtown Wichita