Created By: Wichita History Walk
(Look across the street for this building.)
After the Prohibitionists busted up bars and saloons, citizens needed a gathering place that was less controversial. During the early years of the 20th century, the soda fountain became an American institution. These family friendly stores served ice cream and sodas, sometimes doubling as drugstores with a separate counter for that purpose. They became the new, trendy watering hole especially during the national Prohibition from 1919 to 1933.
The Old Mill Tasty Shop is the oldest example of such an establishment here in Wichita. Otto and Erna Woermke opened the store during the Great Depression in 1932 by purchasing Silas Ice Cream and Candy at 528 E. Douglas. After changing its name to the Old Mill Tasty Shop, they maintained the store there until 1940, when they moved down the street to 604 E. Douglas (formerly Fralick Barber Supply). Otto and Erna operated the store until Otto's death in 1981. Mary and John Wright picked up where the Woermkes left off, reopening the Old Mill in 1982 and continuing to this day.
Photos courtesy of The Old Mill Tasty Shop where indicated.)
This point of interest is part of the tour: Historic Downtown Wichita