Old Town Remains Historic Gem

Jennifer Brosius

Driving around Kansas in the Wichita area can get boring, seeing and going to the same places every Friday night and on the weekends. However, there are fascinating places and endless opportunities that are overlooked within just a few miles of the average driving distance.

Downtown Wichita has a lot to offer with destinations, restaurants and events. Old Town and its surrounding attractions are some of the most popular tourist and go-to places in Wichita. Old Town is a 20 block perimeter that has fun activities, nice restaurants and stores to shop at.

The Hotel at Old Town was originally built in 1879 as a warehouse for tools, an establishment under the company Keen Kutter. The building was then rebuilt in 1906 into a luxurious 115 room hotel. On the side of the building engraved are the original logo from the company Keen Kutter. 

Another historic building is the Eaton Place Hotel built in 1886 by Captain J.B. Carey. This was the most fashionable place to stay at the time. Inside the hotel is a memorial for Carrie Nation, a woman who organized an attack on the ballroom that was placed in the hotel.  Her memorial can be seen inside the hotel and alone at Naftzger Park.

Naftzger Park is right outside the hotel and what is now Intrust Bank Arena. This park is where many people gather for picnics, a late night stroll or skating. It is named after an early Wichita citizen, Maurice Clifford Naftzger. 

And that’s not all.

Another building that has been rebuilt into city residential living is Spaghetti Works. This building was built in 1894 and used as a Wholesales Grocery Warehouse. In the 1900s it became vacant until the property was purchased in 2015.

Union Station first opened in March of 1914. Traffic was booming in the 1920s and daily traffic grew from the 200 passenger and 38 train stations. In 1919 President Woodrow Wilson took an unexpected visit to the station when coming to speak in Wichita and had an unexpected stroke on the way. The station has been modernized and is now used for commercial uses.

Speaking of transportation methods, the Railroad and Overpass, driven on by hundreds of cars every day, was originally constructed in 1913. The uplifted train tracks were to ensure efficient transport and for citizens to have easy walking access to their homes and neighborhood jobs. 

Even now, Old Town is still going strong when it comes to new attractions. It offers various events, such as carriage rides on Friday nights from 5 p.m.- 8 p.m. 

There’s a lot more to downtown Wichita than just Old Town, though. The Great Keeper of the Plains and Exploration Place are also popular attractions to visit.