South of the Tracks: Bank of Commerce

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

With this post, we continue to explore the history of the buildings south of the tracks. Straight across from the Newton Hotel building at the corner of 3rd & Main,  E.L. Parris built a grand home for his new Bank of Commerce. Today, the building constructed between 1885-1889 is one of the oldest of the buildings along Main in Newton.

Note on construction dates:  The earliest photos of the building show “Commerce Block 1885” in the cornice; however, according to newspaper accounts the structure was not finished until spring 1889. The 1886 Sanborn map does indicate a small stone structure at 226 Main.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1886, detail of 3rd & Main, Newton.

Commerce Block

In April 1889 the editor of the Newton Daily Republican declared; “this will be one of the finest business blocks in the city when finished and the builders, Messrs Parris and Hanna are to be congratulated upon the enterprise shown by them.” The new Bank of Commerce, one of five banks in Newton, was scheduled to open May 1, 1889.

Drawing featured in the Newton Kansan, 19 December 1889

Newton Kansan, 19 December 1889

The Hanna Bros also completed their portion of the block where  W.C. Anderson opened a grocery in June 1889.

Newton Daily Republican, 28 March 1889.

Parris’ timing was bad. The Newton Panic of 1890 struck November 27, and brought down several Newton banks, the Newton Street Railway, and the Electric Light Company as real estate values plummeted.  Parris was one of several Newton businessmen that were bankrupt over night.

Newton Daily Republican, 13 December 1890

After the failure of the Bank of Commerce the building was home to several different businesses.

Parade, 200 Block of Main, east side, ca. 1890.

Powell & Krueger

In 1892, the partnership of Powell and Krueger opened a grocery to 214 Main and at some point  the store was moved to 226 Main.

Newton Kansan 16 July 1896

In his December 31, 1920 obituary, W. A. Krueger was hailed as “one of Newton’s successful businessmen, having been in the general mercantile business at 226 Main for the past twenty-nine years.”

W.A. Krueger Dry Goods, Shoes, Groceries, 226 Main, Newton, ca. 1910.

An early April wind storm caused damage in 1895 to the upper floors which may have been a rooming house with  F.P. Hinkle’s Drug Store on the first floor.

“Two large windows in the second story of the Commerce Block above F.P. Hinkle’s Drug Store on the corner of Main and Third street were blown out about 8 o’clock.. The room was occupied by Will Byers and J.B. Aubrey . . . standing under the glass when it fell, but were not injured.” (Newton Daily Republican, 6 April 1895)

In 1918, a post office sub station was located at Kruegers where “one of the daughters will give the attention desired by the southside patrons.”

Newton Kansan, 10 January 1918.

Main, looking north, ca. 1899.

Corner of Main & 3rd

At some point the cornice was removed and part of the windows bricked over.

200 Block, Main, 1961. Earl Brown Wholesale Candy & Tobacco, 226 Main; Supernois Furniture, 224 Main; Hazel Phillips, PA, 222 Main; Wiens Realty & Carl’s Barber Shop, 218 Main; Stukey’s Beauty Shop, 216 Main, Roxy Theatre, 214 Main.

Most people today likely remember  Supernois Furniture at 224-226 Main.

Supernois Furniture 224 Main, Newton, 1975.

Today, 226 Main is home the the Metcalf Sisters Antique Mall.

Then & Now: 1910 & 1992

Bird’s Eye View looking east down 3rd Street from Main.. Newton Hotel, lower left, Commerce Building 226 Main, German M.E. Church 215 E. 3rd in the background, 1910.

Bird’s-eye view from top floor of the Old Mill looking down E 3rd Street, 1992.

Additional Sources

  • Newton Daily Republican: 21 January 1890

South of the Tracks: The Newton Hotel

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

While the Old Mill Building was saved and repurposed, not all were so lucky. In the late 1960s early 1970s, structures dating from the 1880s and 90s were torn down. This is the early history of a building that was not saved – the Newton Hotel.

South of the tracks, Main street, ca. 1890.


Main, south of the track, looking south, ca. 1890. Swartz Lumber Building on the left. Newton Hotel is on the right.

The Newton Hotel, 1970.

Newton Hotel on the left, Old Mill on the right, ca. 1970.

Photos of Demolition, ca. 1970.


Newton Hotel Building, 225-227 N. Main, Newton, prior to demolition, ca. 1970


Newton Hotel Building, 225-227 N. Main, Newton during demolition, ca. 1972.

Newton Hotel Building, 225-227 N. Main, Newton, during demolition, ca. 1972.


For such an impressive structure, it was difficult to pin down the early history.

The late 1880s was a time of growth and optimism in Newton. The Ragdale brothers built a grand opera house at the corner of Broadway and Main in 1885. Many of Newton’s wealthy built homes along East 1st and West Broadway. Business were also growing along Main street on both sides of the tracks.   E.L. Parris opened the Bank of Commerce at the corner of Main and 3rd, in 1888 south of the tracks.

225-227 N. Main

An 1884 Sanborn map shows a small stone structure at 225 Main identified as a furniture store.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, 1884.

A much larger stone structure is indicated at 225-227 Main on the Sanborn map in 1886.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1886.

In 1886-87,  Tin Works with George C. Jones, Tinner, and Bradt & Hubbard Hardware advertised a “New Hardware Store” located at 227 Main.

Newton Daily Republican, 27 September 1886.

” Should Do Good Business”

Next door, at 225 Main, the Metropolitan Hotel with restaurant opened in 1886, C. B. Chapman proprietor. The Newton Daily Republican noted “the dining room is handsomely fitted up.  The Metropolitan should do good business.”  L.W. Warner worked as clerk and Mrs Lizzie Beekwith was the cook.  There were two waitresses, Miss Ella Grove and Miss Bertie Ingol according to the 1887 directory.

In 1887, Mme. French, a fortune teller, returned from Europe.  The Metropolitan became her headquarters where she told “the past and future by planets and astronomy, brings parties together; places the charm upon the head and gives luck and prosperity.”

Newton Daily Republican, 28 July 1887.

By summer 1887, the Metropolitan Hotel was for sale. Described as “a large 3-story stone building of 30 well arranged and well ventilated rooms, and everything is in first-class order; is situated on Main street, south of the depot and is doing a fine business, every room being occupied.”

Over the next several years, the hotel underwent several changes of management. In 1888, under the management of J. Wilson the hotel was “thoroughly renovated” and renamed the Globe Hotel.

Newton Daily Republican, 13 December 1888

Boom and Bust

The 1890s were something of a reality check for Newton businessmen. On November 27, 1890 fortunes were swept away in an instant,when a financial panic swept  through Newton. Eight banks closed  and real estate plummeted. Many prominent businessmen went bankrupt, including E.L. Parris, financier of the Commerce Block at the corner of 3rd & Main.

Newton Kansan, 27 November 1890, p.1.

The Newton Kansan noted that “men who retired at night happy in the thought that they were on the road to wealth, awoke in the morning to find that the boom had busted and their wealth only a myth.” 

No doubt the bust played a role in the turnover of owners and managers at 225-227 N. Main for the next seven years.

“There’s Money In It”

Optimism returned when the  Santa Fe division headquarters relocated  to Newton in 1897.

The editor of the Newton Daily Republican observed, “Now that prosperity has invaded Newton, some one should start up the old Globe hotel.  With the right kind of a man in it, there’s money in it.” 

Someone took him up on it. A June 26, 1897 notice in the Newton Daily Republican announced the “Re-opening of the Globe Hotel.” The hotel under the management of Goodyear & Short from Nickerson, Ks had “refitted from top to bottom” including interior improvements and new furniture “making it one of the finest hotels in the city.”

Newton Daily Republican, 26 June 1897.

The building also served as the polling location for the Second ward throughout 1890s.

Evening Kansan Republican, 3 April 1899.

In 1898, the building became the Hotel Newton or more commonly the Newton Hotel. City council  spent time at the May 19, 1898 meeting discussing the “exceedingly deplorable” conditions around Newton.  First they discussed “the cellar of the Newton hotel and the building adjoining it to the south, . . .  it was thought best to fill them up, as they were of no used and filled with odorous water.”  They also planned to “tour the city and notify property owners to remove manure piles and clean out-houses. . . before warm weather sets in.”

The Weekly Republican reported July 1, 1898 on the meeting of the Newton Cyclists’ Association, which had chosen the Newton Hotel along with Frank Tyson’s restaurant, as “the official hotels for bicyclists” for an upcoming event.

Throughout this time, the proprietors  of the hotel frequently changed.  In 1902, Davis & Evans were proprietors and in 1905 W.C. Simmons took their place. By 1911, successful Newton hotelier J.W. Murphy was managing the business.

The Fire Marshal reported in November 1911 that  several of the larger buildings in Newton including the Newton hotel, Duff & Son Furniture Co and the Opera house were adequately equipped with fire escapes.

“Cure Guaranteed”

The hotel was a favorite stop for visiting  experts including “the physicians and surgeons of the Chicago Curative Institute . . . cure guaranteed.”

Newton Kansan 24 August 1900.

Another frequent guest was “the Boy Wonder” who was skilled in “the science of magnetic healing.”

Evening Kansan Republican, 31 October 1906.

Several other business were located on the first floor of the building including Lee & McDaniel New & 2nd Hand Furniture, and the Home Furnishing Store.


Lee & McDaniel Home Furnishings, 3rd & Main, Newton, Ks ca. 1910.

Photos of the Newton Hotel



200 Block Main, west side, Parade, ca. 1906. Red arrow indicates the Carnegie Library Building, Newton Hotel large building on the right corner of the photo.


Newton Milling & elevator Co., Hotel Newton on the left, ca. 1922.


  • Newton Daily Republican:  20 September 1886, 26 September 1886, 18 February 1887, 2 July 1887,  15 January 1889, 15 January 1897, 1 June 1897, 26 June 1897.
  • Weekly Republican 1 July 1898.
  • Newton Kansan: 19 May 1898, 23 November 1911.

South of the Tracks: the Old Mill

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

May is Historic Preservation Month!

This year we will feature stories about buildings from the south side of the tracks in Newton, Ks

The historic district on the north side of Newton’s railroad tracks has beautiful historic buildings, however, many of the oldest buildings along Newton’s Main Street are  located south of the tracks. The area 200 through 214 and 203 through 301 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as Newton Historic District 1 in 2003. These buildings once housed thriving hardware, furniture and grocery stores anchored by the Bank of Commerce on the corner of 3rd & Main on the east side and the Newton Hotel, a large three story stone structure dominated the west side at the corner of 2nd & Main.

Just behind and to the west of the Newton Hotel was a large milling complex.

Newton Milling & Elevator Co., (rt) Globe (Newton) Hotel (lt),1886.

A local businessman D. Hamill built the large stone and brick Monarch Mill in 1881.  The editor of the Weekly Republican declared in April 1881 that the Monarch Mill as “one of the very best flouring mills in Kansas.”

Newton Kansan, 4 February 1886.

The business was bought by Bernhard Warkentin in 1886 and renamed the Newton Milling Co.

Newton Milling & Elevator Co, and General Office, Newton, Ks. The Western Journal of Commerce, 1902.

By the late 1960s, early 1970s, the 90 year old structure was in poor repair.

Newton Milling & Elevator Co, (rt); Newton Hotel (lt), ca. 1970.


Despite the connections to early Harvey County history, the building was slated for demolition in the early 1970s.

Beginning demolition of the roof, ca. 1970

A section of the roof had been removed when in a dramatic eleventh hour effort, local businessman and wife, Lloyd & and Jackie Smith bought the building.

Lloyd Smith in the newly renovated Old Mill.

Restoring the Old Mill

Early in the restoration, preservation process, they discovered the original blueprints for the building. This discovery allowed them to make repairs in keeping with the original, including restoration of the unique mansard roof.

Old Mill shortly after renovations.

For many years, the Old Mill was home to S&V Tools, a company owned and operated by Lloyd Smith. After Smith retired, many businesses have called the building home including restaurants, dentists, and accounting firms. The Old Mill is a success story of adaptive use for historic structures.

At nearly 140 years old, the Old Mill remains a significant landmark that connects us to Harvey County’s earliest businesses while providing space for current enterprises.

Trivia Question Answer

The answer to our trivia question – how tall is the smoke stack behind the Old Mill? 100 feet.