Created By: Wichita History Walk
The arts have long been an important part of Wichita's history. While you're looking at Century II right now, its predecessor The Forum was the first and largest gathering place in the city. When it opened in 1911, the Wichita Eagle claimed that it was second only to the New York Hippodrome. The stage was the fourth largest in the nation, so it was truly impressive to the 5,000 people who attended its dedication ceremony. Over the years, the Forum hosted many shows, concerts, and eventually movies. It became the center of a large complex that included the City Market and an Annex that hosted expositions and other gatherings. In 1920, the Laird Airplane Company assembled planes in the second story of the Annex.
Then, in the mid 1950’s, the city of Wichita began to discuss a new cultural arts center. A bond issue was approved for this as well as a new library. A total of nine city blocks were razed for the building of the library and Century II, including the Forum complex. Century II's circular architecture was designed by John Hickman, an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright.
After several years of construction, Century II was opened January 11, 1969 to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Wichita’s incorporation in 1970. Among its amenities are a 1926 Wurlitzer organ from the Paramount Theatre of New York, now installed in the Convention Hall. A multi-level park was added to the west side in 1970.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Historic Downtown Wichita