Historic Downtown Wichita

Stroll along Douglas Avenue and discover the heart of Wichita.

Historic Downtown Wichita

Wichita, Kansas 67203, United States

Created By: Wichita History Walk

Tour Information

Douglas Avenue remains the center of commerce for Wichita today, with many historic buildings and businesses linings its streets. Explore the ever-changing streetscape of downtown, both the buildings that remain and the ghosts of establishments past.

Each stop may have more than one picture. Swipe to the left to see more photos when available, and tap photos to enlarge and zoom.

Wichita History Walk is a project of Bike Walk Wichita and the Wichita Public Library, funded by the generous support of AARP's Community Challenge grant. Our grateful thanks to the following institutions and individuals for their support of this project:

The Wichita Public Library Foundation

Jim Byrum, who provided narration for many of our stops

The Mid-America All-Indian Center

The Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum

The Kansas African American Museum

The Kansas State Historical Society

The Wichita State University Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives


Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

1
Broadview Hotel

PLAY AUDIO In 1921, George Siedhoff leased part of the land owned by the Arkansas Valley Interurban Railway Company and built the Hotel Broadview for $400,000. During Prohibition, the basement of the hotel was a speakeasy where those in the... Read more
2
Missouri Pacific Depot

PLAY AUDIO While the Garvey complex is well known in downtown Wichita, you might not realize that its predecessor was the Missouri Pacific Depot, an ornate late Victorian-era station located at 302 West Douglas. Built in 1900, it was the fi... Read more
3
The Forum & Century II

PLAY AUDIO 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 Ea... Read more
4
Nereus Baldwin Photographic Shop & Library

PLAY AUDIO (This building is across the street from you - the one with a clock hanging from its corner.) If you wanted your picture taken in the late 1870s, Nereus Baldwin’s photograph gallery on the second floor of 102 East Douglas was ... Read more
5
Bitting Brothers Buildings

PLAY AUDIO (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 thei... Read more
6
Victory Arch

PLAY AUDIO The Victory Arch, also known as Memorial Arch, was built over Douglas Street at Broadway to commemorate the end of World War I in 1919. The effort was spearheaded by Walter Vincent who spent $1,800 of his own money and raised $6,... Read more
7
Barnes Block & Dockum Drug Store

PLAY AUDIO Where the Ambassador Hotel now sits was the Barnes Block, a large building complex that housed many businesses, and the Dockum Drug Store on street level. The drug store was made locally famous by Wichita teens organizing for civ... Read more
8
Tremont House

PLAY AUDIO (Look across the street for the former site of this building.) The first grand hotel in Wichita, Tremont House was physically moved and underwent name changes over the years. It was located here from 1877-1887, about where the p... Read more
9
Eaton Hotel & Carrie Nation

PLAY AUDIO Built in 1886-87 by Capt. J.B. Carey, this building was later purchased by hotel manager Ben Eaton. Not only was it considered a fashionable place to stay, it grew in notoriety after prohibitionist Carrie Nation visited town.  ... Read more
10
M.C. Naftzger Park & Wichita Vortex Sutra

PLAY AUDIO Maurice Clifford Naftzger was a prominent early citizen of Wichita, who arrived in 1887.  His father Levi was president of the Fourth National Bank from 1893 to 1910, which was then sold to to Ben McLean, who turned this into th... Read more
11
Old Mill Tasty Shop

PLAY AUDIO (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... Read more
12
Railroad & Overpass

PLAY AUDIO One early civic advancement was the 1913 construction of elevated train tracks over Douglas Avenue. This enabled quick and safe passage of pedestrians, wagons, and streetcars who would otherwise have to wait until each train pass... Read more
13
Union Station

PLAY AUDIO Wichita’s Union Station was opened March 6, 1914, with an elaborate banquet and reception for 600 guests. The planning for this station squeaked through financial and logistic difficulties. According to Ransom Stephens, the sta... Read more
14
Burt Smith Groceries

PLAY AUDIO A noted grocery store of early Wichita sat on what is currently a parking lot next to the Larkspur restaurant. Originally a grocery store owned by Jim Creighton and Dave Siebert, it was purchased in 1885 by Thomas Fahey and Sons.... Read more
15
Frisco Depot and the Wichita Eagle

PLAY AUDIO At the southwest corner of Douglas and Mosley, the Frisco railroad connected Wichita to St. Louis at a depot established in August 1903. This depot was in use until Union Station was constructed, and then used for other purposes ... Read more
16
Mentholatum Company - Yucca Building

PLAY AUDIO A.A. Hyde was another of Wichita’s early entrepreneurs.  Hyde came to Wichita in 1872 to help run a bank, and became cashier of the Wichita Savings Bank. When the real estate market collapsed, he lost all his money. With his p... Read more
17
Mentholatum Company - Part 2

PLAY AUDIO (Look across the street for this building.) Once Mentholatum became a household name, A.A. Hyde built a new building at Douglas and Cleveland in 1909. There, they manufactured various products for the company until the building w... Read more

 

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