A Photo Album: 519 Main, Newton, 1879-1992.

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

With the recent crumbling of the front facade of the building at 519 Main, Newton, and the discussions of how to proceed, we thought it might be of interest to take a look back at the building at 519 Main.

Probably the second oldest photo in the museum’s collection of Newton’s Main Street. Taken in 1879-1880, the photo is of the west side of the 500 Block looking south.

500 Block Main, Newton, 1879-1880

Opera House

Recent research has also revealed that an earlier Opera House was located at 519 Main.

519 Main, Newton, Kansan 50th Anniversary Edition. 1922 
Sprinkler’s Furniture & Undertaking

519 Detail
Opera House 1878


Although the photographer meant to focus on floats and bands, a lot of clues can be gathered from parade photos.  From 1900 on through present day, these photos highlight a changing Main Street.


West side of Main, 1901. Western Journal of Commerce, 1901.


500 Block Main, Newton, Ks , 1911


519 Main, second floor visible in background, 1921.


500 Block Main, 1941.


500 Block Main, 1957.


500 Block Main, 1963.


500 Block Main, 1965.


500 Block Main, 1977.


500 Block Main, 1992.





History Under Foot

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

While finishing up Christmas shopping last week, I happened to look down as I left one of the stores along Newton’s Main Street.

December 2017

Repairs were underway and the top layer in the entry way had been removed and a piece of history was revealed.

611 Main, detail, 2007

Today, the building is home to the Main Street Company, a clothing store. Originally, this building, with the fun architectural details, was Dickey’s Drug & Jewelry.

611 Main, Newton, Ks, 2007


John B. Dickey was born in Michigan in 1848.  John, “having a liking for the drug business, learned his profession in Centerville, Mich” where his father was a practicing physician.  At the age of 22, Dickey headed to Kansas and settled first in Wichita where he worked as an “assistant postmaster.”  He began to hear about a proposed town north of Wichita and the adventures of a cattle drive.  He resigned his job to herd cattle. While working as a cowboy, he contracted malaria. He went to the new drug store in Newton owned by W.P. Pugh for quinine. He argued with Pugh over the high price of the drug.  The argument ended with Dickey buying the business paying a monthly  rent of $65  to Pugh for the small wood frame building.   In June 1871, he opened “Dickey’s Drug” in Newton.  A year later,  building was destroyed by fire, but Dickey’s Drug continued.

John B. Dickey, Sr, taken shortly before his death in 1921.

 In 1879, he purchased a lot at 611 Main, Newton and built a new structure and for the next 50 years Dickey’s Drug was a Newton fixture.

Dickey’s Drug & Jewelry, 611 Main, Newton. 1883.

By the turn of the century, he had added jewelry to his stock.

Interior, 611 Main, Newton, 1887.

In addition to running his business, he served on the Newton City Council and as Mayor.  Many civic projects, including Newton’s Country Club and two public parks, Military and Themian Parks,  succeeded because of his “unfailing optimism.”

Dickey Drug & Jewelry, 611 Main, Newton, 1925.

In 1921, shortly before his death, he celebrated 50 years in business at 611 Main. J.B. Dickey died October 28, 1921.

Dickey’s visible in the background, 1950s.

Main Street Co., 611 Main, Newton,  2007



  • Evening Kansan Republican:28 October 1921, 29 October 1921, 31 October 1921.
  • “Career of John B. Dickey” in The Jewelers’ Circular, Vol 83, Issue 2.16 November 1921.
  • “New Member of the Jewelers Security Alliance” Jewelers’ Circular & Horological Review, vol. 45 (17 September 1902)  p. 44.
  • Sapone, Jane.  Presentation Boxes Tell A Story: J.B. Dickey Jeweler, Newton, Kansas.” Thimble Collectors International, Summer 2014, p. 22.

Queen of Central Kansas: Newton in 1887


In the December 31, 1887 edition of the Newton Evening Kansan, editor Charles Kurtz highlighted the progress and prosperity of Newton.  He noted that the future for the “Queen of Central Kansas” is “a gloriously busy and a growing one.”


Drawings were included and they portray a town full of industry and growth from Main Street . . .



To the banks and businesses . . .





and the private residences.




Source: Newton Evening Kansan, 31 December 1887.