Created By: Old Cowtown Museum
The Finlay Ross Furniture Store in the Business District at Old Cowtown Museum represents a business dedicated to furnishing the Victorian home. There is no one Victorian style of furnishings, rather a wide conglomeration of many styles. These styles reflected whims and fluctuating tastes of Queen Victoria as well as the many years the Victorian Era covers.
What did change was the access and affordability of the products. The growing newly-monied nineteenth-century middle class rushed to embrace a suddenly-affordable, opulent style of household furnishings even with its occasional excesses.
Before the Industrial Revolution, furniture was made by hand one at time by craftsmen. After the Industrial Revolution, furniture could be mass produced in factories, making a wide variety in style and quality available. The middle class people demanded that the new wealthy look wealthy, Large families and lavish entertainment produced a greater need for furniture. Rooms had to be crowded with furniture and mass production made it possible.
When Finlay Ross Furniture opened its doors on the corner of Main and First Streets in late 1876 he quickly set himself apart from the competition by continually improving and adding to his store. As was common they sold everything from cradles to caskets and sofa's to sewing machines. They also could order most any kind of furniture from factories in Kansas City, by telegraph and have it shipped the next day. One picked the style of furniture and if it was upholstered, there were samples of the fabrics that were available.
By 1885, Finlay Ross Furniture had moved to a 3 story building at 119 and 121 Main Street and had already opened all three floors almost 20,000 square feet of furniture to the public. Finlay Ross sold many grades of furniture from medium grade to costly hand carved pieces along with an endless variety of carpets, oil clothes, rugs, mattress, mirrors, children’s carriages, window shapes, fixtures, cornices etc.
Ross moved to Wichita from Canada and lived his life here. Not only was he a very successful furniture salesman he was also mayor of Wichita from 1897 to 1900, and from 1905 to 1906.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Old Cowtown Museum Tour