Lingering memories of the Clark Hotel

By Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Click on Clark Hotel for Parts 1 & 2

“There are many lingering memories clinging about the old Clark house. . . “

As the fate of the Clark Hotel hung in the balance in April 1913, the editor of the Evening Kansan Republican took some time to reflect on memories of one of the “finest hotels of the middle west.” In his musings, he highlighted a forgotten story from Harvey County history.

“The well-known door under the main staircase through which the thirsty traveler might follow the colored porter, or some well-posted friend, down along a long corridor, around the toilet rooms into a well-appointed bar, and there secure anything in the line of liquid refreshments – this door is still there.   . . no doubt hundreds of Kansans . . . can recall many a pilgrimage through the devious windings required to secure the morning eye-opener or the parting night-cap in the old building during the period when the prohibition was gaining a stronghold in Kansas.” (Evening Kansan Republican, 19 April 1913)

Most familiar with Kansas history have heard of Carrie Nation and her saloon smashing campaign for temperance, but the story of prohibition actually begins in the 1880s and 90s.  On January 1, 1881, a constitutional amendment that prohibited “the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors” went into effect in Kansas. For the next 36 years, Kansas worked to eliminate alcohol from the state.

Some tried to develop “temperance drinks.”

Newton Daily Republican, 30 July 1895.

Newton Daily Republican, 30 July 1895.

Others looked for ways to work around the new law, which was difficult to enforce.  In Newton, several businessmen took advantage of the lax enforcement of the “prohibitory laws” in the late 1890s.

In the 1890s, the Newton City Council adopted resolutions to “fine the jointists of the city.” However, enforcement continued to be a problem as the editor of the Newton Daily Republican noted, “only three arrests have been made” since the resolutions.  Exactly who should enforce the laws was unclear. Some blamed the county attorney for not enforcing the law and shutting down the ‘joints.’  The other side pointed out that the county attorney relied on information brought to his office for consideration.  The county attorney was not a detective.   Early in August 1897, Edward C. Willis complained that the “city authorities have been . . . a little slow in doing their sworn duty.” He quoted “the entire Sec. 2532, Statutes of 1889”  to make his point that it was the responsibility of the sheriffs, constables, mayors, marshals, police officers “having notice or knowledge of any violations of the provisions . . .  to notify the county attorney.” The tension between the two groups no doubt continued.

On August 26, 1897, events came to a head when Sheriff Dick Judkins, under the direction of County Attorney W.S. Allen, “moved down on the offenders, having a wagon outside to convey the spoils to the county jail for cold storage.”    The Newton Daily Republican reported that four men were arrested for “violation of the prohibitory law, temporary injunctions issued upon them, and goods confiscated.”

At the Clark Hotel and a restaurant known as “Gallup’s place,” the sheriff met with some resistance. The paper reported that “at the Hotel Clark, the negro cook flatly refused to allow the sheriff to make search or look into the ice box, sitting down on top of it to prevent ingress.”  The cook finally allowed the search “at the point of a revolver.”

The next place searched was Conrad’s Drugstore, where “no liquor of any kind could be found.”   The sheriff did however, confiscate “the icebox from the bottling works counter, with other paraphernalia.”

Bottle from Conrad Drugstore

Bottle from Conrad Drugstore

Judkins met with more resistance at Gallup’s when the cook again sat on the ice box, and again the sheriff’s “revolver was brought into play, with satisfactory results.”  The next day, the paper retracted the stories of resistance noting that he did not know “how the story that the two cooks at the two places were so obstinate and that the revolver . . . was necessary . . . is not known. . . . Sheriff Judkins says, however, that all was peaceful.”  The editor further notes that yesterday when he printed the story most people believed this to be true.

Regardless, five wagon loads of “goods” were hauled to the county jail and stored in the basement for “future disposal” as a result of the raids.  Two were sent to jail, George English and Henry Gallup. The other two, E. Horan and E.E. Conrad were able to post the bond of $500 each.

A day later, more injunctions were filed against two more “druggists” and two more restaurant owners. After prohibiting the various owners from selling liquor, Probate Judge J.W. Johnson personally “went to the drug stores of E.E. Conrad, O.W. Roff, and W.D. Pearson and took away their permits to sell intoxicating liquors.”  Judge Johnson noted that this was “in the best interests of the people . . . by taking away the privilege to sell liquors, which privilege had been abused grossly. . . . he meant to removed it for the good of the community.”

Sheriff Judkins was not finished, the paper reported that “immediately after arresting Mr. Porter and Mr. Roff, [Judkins] took the west bound Santa Fe No. 5 for Burrton and Halstead, where this evening he will arrest Ed Debrulier [Burrton] and . . . Charles Steininger and Carl Kaiser of Halstead.  These three men are keepers of restaurants and have been violating the prohibitory law.”

The Kansas City Gazette reported the next day that “Newton Has Gone Dry” noting that ‘the joints have been running wide open in Newton for many months and until now there has been no attempt to close them.”   The paper further noted that “Horan and Conrad are prominent citizens” and that “County Attorney Allen means to push the enforcement of the law and will close every place in the city.”


Newton Main, Newton Evening Kansan, 31 December 1887.

The Harvey County District Court convened on October 5, 1897. The docket included “the cases for the unlawful sale of intoxicating liquors.”  Several went to trial, but Conrad, Horan, Porter, Roff and Pearson plead guilty to one count – “the nuisance clause.”  The men paid the fines and left. County Attorney Allen cautioned that the cases were not entirely dismissed and that “the county attorney holds the whip hand and can keep the men from violating the law at any future time.”

Cases against violators of “prohibitory law” continued to appear in the newspapers throughout the early 1900s as officials sought to enforce the laws at the local level.  In 1917, the “bone dry” bill, which banned alcohol statewide, was signed by the Kansas governor.  Two years later in 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution made prohibition the law of the country.


  • Newton Daily Republican; 30 July 1895, 7 August 1897, 26 August 1897, 27 August 1897, 5 October 1897.
  • Kansas City Gazette; 27 August 1897.
  • Evening Kansan Republican; 19 April 1913.
  • “Prohibition” Kansapedia- Kansas State Historical Society.

“Thoroughly Popular:” Clark Hotel

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Part 1 of the history of the Clark Hotel can be found here, and part 3

In 1892, George Clark retired from the hotel business for health reasons. Thomas J. Simpson from Fredonia, Kansas “assumed charge of Clark’s hotel.” For the next 20 years, the impressive building at the corner of 4th and Main would undergo changes in management and ownership and eventually be condemned and torn down.


Clark Hotel, 1890. HCHM Photo Archives.

“The New Clark”

The Newton Daily Republican announced improvements and changes to the Clark Hotel in January 1894, noting that with these improvements “it has become thoroughly popular with both residents of Newton and the traveling fraternity alike.” Under the direction of hotel manager, F.D. Van Duyn, the steam heating apparatus was refitted and in “perfect working order.” Other improvements included retouching the walls, new furnishings. “A handsome upright piano, a new parlor set and appropriate pictures” improved the parlor on the first floor. Forty rooms were repaired and re-papered. Meals were “served in the highest style of the culinary art, the best the market affords being drawn upon to supply the tables.” There were also four separate cottages near the main hotel that served as extra rooms when the hotel was crowded.

newclark 001

Newton Daily Republican, 14 February 1895, p. 4.

A year and a half later, the Clark Hotel had a proprietor, E. Horan.

Clark’s Hotel Rate $2.00 Per Day.  E. Horan, Proprietor.

“E. Horan who lives a mile south of Newton and is< well known in business circles will take charge of the Clark Hotel . . . Horan was one of the most successful hotel men of Canada.” (Newton Daily Republican, 29 July 1896)

E. Horan was involved in other business ventures in the area.  He came to Harvey County in the mid-1880s and established a farm and was involved in breeding and racing horses.

Newton Daily Republican, 16 March 1895.

Newton Daily Republican, 16 March 1895.

By 1890, he had moved to  a two story, eight room house with barn on east 6th in Newton, valued at $2,200. He was married and had at least one daughter, Susan, who married G.W. Puett 2 February 1890.

Interior of Clark’s Hotel, 1896, E. Horan proprietor. HCHM Photo Archives

In spring 1897, the Newton Daily Republican reported that the last meal was served at the Arcade Hotel.  This prompted Horan to make “extensive improvements “ at the Clark Hotel.  The improvements cost $400 and included fifty rooms.

“Realizing that the Clark must handle all the old Arcade business, the enterprising proprietor of the house, Mr. E. Horan, is making numerous changes and additions to the house . . . to meet the increased demand of public.” ( Evening Kansan, 1 June 1887.)

In December 1898, it was announced that the Santa Fe Railroad had purchased the Clark Hotel.  A written notice signed by representatives of the Investment Trust Co. and the Santa Fe, was sent to E. Horan, proprietor, indicating that he had sixty days to vacate the building.   Horan noted that he held a lease agreement good until April 1, 1899 from the trust company.  He refused to vacate, noting that he had furniture and contents valued at $1,500 that could not be moved quickly.

Newton Daily Republican, 2 December 1898.

Newton Daily Republican, 2 December 1898.

Over the next few months, E. Horan remained stubborn and refused to vacate the building. In February 1899,  the Santa Fe brought an “ejectment suit” against Horan.  Branine & Branine, representatives for Horan, “attempted to show that the Santa Fe had no legal right to purchase the hotel and were therefore in no position to bring a suit of ejectment.” The case went to jury and the verdict was in the Santa Fe’s favor.  E. Horan responded that “he has not been used in the right manner by the Santa Fe and now that he is in possession of the hotel he intends to hold it until the sheriff puts him out.” He also appealed his case to the district court and if “necessary . . . take the case to a higher court.”   Next Horan claimed that the Santa Fe “was not the legal owner of the Clark Hotel at the time the first notice was served . . . to vacate the hotel.”  Roughly two weeks later, the Santa Fe and Horan were able to come to a compromise.  Horan would be able to purchase the furniture for an agreed upon sum and he would vacate the hotel by April 1.

On Tuesday, March 28, the editor of the Newton Daily Republican noted:

“Sunday was the dullest day at the Clark Hotel since E. Horan has taken possession. .  . . . Mr. Horan has commenced tearing up the furniture and carpets . . . and will have everything moved out by April 1.”

The last breakfast was served at the Clark Hotel on March 29, 1899.

With the closing of the Arcade and the Clark, available rooms were limited.

wherewilltheystay 001

Newton Daily Republican, 30 March 1899.


The Clark and Santa Fe

Initial plans under the ownership of the Santa Fe  included the renovation of both the Clark Hotel and the Arcade. In one plan the Arcade would house the dining room with rooms for “roomers and the hotel help and the Clark hotel would be retained strictly for transient trade.”  One proposal even included a walkway between the two  buildings which would be a “light steel covered affair to accommodate people wishing to go from one hotel to the other without going into the open air.” None of these plans became reality. Instead, the Santa Fe used the upper stories of the Clark Hotel building for offices and the  Fred Harvey General Store was located on the lower floor.


Santa Fe Dispatch Offices in the Clark Hotel, 1901.

For the next 14 years the building served as headquarters for the Santa Fe railroad.  The “spacious dining room was partitioned off into suitable rooms, stairways were blocked and rebuilt, the sleeping rooms were changed and hallways rearranged.” Over the years, the structure deteriorated and by 1913 it was “well known . . .  that the office building was badly in need of repairs.” In a letter published in  Evening Kansan Republican  Judge Bowman noted that “the building [Clark Hotel] became wind shaken and the officers fearing a wreck vacated the building.” On April 19, 1913, the Santa Fe moved the offices to the Dotson Building on East 5th.  Initially, the move was temporary, “pending the completion of repairs on the old quarters.” However, the needed repairs proved more extensive and expensive than the Santa Fe expected and the once grand landmark was slated to be demolished.

democlark 001

Work taking down the building began on April 23, 1913 and 56 year old Chris Haman, who not only helped with the construction of the building, but also worked as a baggage master in the hotel, was there to watch, noting he “never expected to live to see the building torn down.”


Postcard, Newton 4th & Main Intersection, Newton, Ks, ca. 1910. Clark Hotel/Santa Fe Offices on left, Swartz Lumber Co., and Arcade Hotel on right.

“First Class in Every Respect: Clark Hotel Part 1


  • Newton Daily Republican: 12 June 1887, 3 February 1890, 16 April 18921 June 1892, 14 Feb 1895, 16 March 1895,  29 July 1896, 31 May 1897, 1 June 1897, 15 June 1898, 2 Dec 1898, 3 Dec 1898, 20 Feb. 1899, 15 Mar. 1899, 30 Mar. 1899, 1 Mar. 1902.
  • Evening Kansan Republican, 1 June 1897, 19 April 1913, 23 April 1913, 3 July 1913.
  • Atchison Daily Champion, 27 July 1895, p. 4.
  • Puett, G.W. and Susan Horan, 2 February 1890, Marriage License Collection, HCHM Archives.
  • Newton City Directories: 1885, 1887, 1902.

“First Class in Every Respect:” The Clark Hotel

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

In April 1913, long time Newton resident, Chris Haman, noted to a newspaper reporter, “I never expected to live to see the building torn down” as he watched workers tear off the roof of one of Newton’s tallest buildings.  Haman who worked on the construction of the Clark Hotel in 1887 and later in the hotel as a baggage master, was referring to the razing of  one of the first four story structures in Harvey County, the Clark Hotel at the corner of Main & 4th.  What was once “one of the finest hotels in the state” would soon be rubble, and today, a parking lot.

The southwest corner of 4th & Main

The southwest corner of 4th and Main was a ideal location for a lodging, and since the mid-1870s a hotel had been located at this corner. Business men of the late 1800s preferred rooms in downtown boarding houses or hotels within easy walking distance of the business district and railroad. For several years, the Rasurre House, located at 4th and Main, provided a place for travelers to stay that was conveniently next to the depot and railroad tracks.

In 1869, Illinois native, George Clark settled near Fort Riley, Kansas. Clark later moved to the new “hamlet” of Wichita where he worked as a messenger for several years. During that time, he visited the growing community of Newton, and with the help of his sister, Mrs. Mary L. Howard, decided to enter the business of running a hotel.

George Clark, ca. 1870

George Clark, ca. 1870

George Clark purchased the two story Rasurre House in 1876.  The hotel was renamed “Howard House” after his brother-in-law, Lt. Ruben Howard, who died in 1875.  Clark began to make improvements almost immediately.  For a time, Mary, assisted him in the running of the hotel and lunch room. She married Capt Hubbard W. Bunker, Harvey County Treasurer and Civil War Veteran, November 28, 1877.  Bunker died suddenly in 1894, and at some point after that Mary left Newton to live in California with a daughter. She died in June 1918 at the age of 77.

Due to the efforts of the Clark siblings, the reputation of the “Howard House” grew over the years.

Newton Daily Republican  noted in the 6 August 1886 issue:

“We can conscientiously advise our friends to visit the Howard House when at Newton.  It is just across from the depot, and is strictly first-class and the proprietor, Mr. Clark would be sure to make you feel at home.”


Howard House, 4th & Main, Newton, ca. 1880-1886

Newton Daily Republican, 3 August 1886

Newton Daily Republican, 3 August 1886

“The Design is Modern”

In 1886, Clark  decided to expand.  He hired Varney Bros from Detroit, as architects.

Newton Daily Republican, 28 April 1887.

Newton Daily Republican, 28 April 1887.

The result was a grand four story structure with a basement. The hotel had a frontage of 64 feet on Main and 69 feet on 4th with a circular tower extending to the roof and “handsome iron balconies extending the whole length  on the second and third stories.”    The remodeled Clark Hotel, a stone, four story, turret-clad structure, was regarded as one of the “finest hotels in the state.” 



The interior was also luxurious. The basement housed bath rooms, water closets, and a barber shop in addition to a boiler and laundry. The first floor included a dining and lunch room, reading room, sitting room and clerks office.

The dining room was described as the “handsomest in Kansas” with mahogany finished wainscoting on the walls and a ceiling of imitation hammered brass.  The separate lunch room was near the front entrance facing Main and was “fitted up with all the modern conveniences and will seat about forty persons.” An elevator was located near the clerks office.  The second floor contained a bridal parlor, “richly carpeted and furnished.” A private residence for the Clark family was also on the second floor.  The rest of the second and third floor was contained bedrooms with closets, 76 in total, and each floor had a bathroom.

The first floor had both gas and electric lights, and only gas lights on the upper floors. The furniture was also quality.

[It came] “direct from the factory at Grand Rapid’s, same as that in Coronado House.  It is of antique oak and mahogany finish.  The carpets are velvet, Wilton and body Brussels, . . . the mattresses  . . . were manufactured in the house under the person supervision of Mr. Clark.”


In the midst of overseeing the construction of the new hotel, Clark married Minnie B. Tillotson on February 10, 1887.  They had three children, with only two surviving infancy, Marguerite and George R.

The Clark Hotel officially opened on Sunday, November 27, 1887 at noon with an elaborate meal and guests from as far away as London.

Newton Daily Republican, 29 November 1887, p. 2.

Newton Daily Republican, 29 November 1887, p. 2. (click to enlarge image)

Shortly after the hotel was opened, Clark’s health began to fail.  He and his wife, Minnie, left the hotel business in 1892 and opened a steam laundry at 115 W. 5th in Newton.


Newton Steam Laundry, 115 W. 5th, Newton. 1909.

George Clark died of consumption a year later on 25 November 1893.  He was 50 years old.  Mrs. Clark continued with the laundry business  after the death of Mr. Clark.

***Our next blog post will continue the history of the Clark Hotel  and continues with Lingering Memories***


  • Newton Daily Republican: 25 Feb. 1886, 11 June 1886, 22 June 1886, 3 August 1886, 6 August 1886,  3 Sept. 1886, 13 Sept. 1886, 12 Oct. 1886, 30 Dec. 1886, 9 Feb. 1887, 21 Apr. 1887, 28 Apr. 1887, 15 July 1887, 29 Nov. 1887, 31 Dec. 1887, 18 June 1888, 1 June 1892, 9 Jan. 1894, 21 May 1894, .
  • Evening Kansan Republican, 8 June 1918, 15 June 1918, 23 April 1913.
  • Newton Kansan: 22 May 1894,  22 June 1925.
  • Newton City Directories: 1885, 1887, 1902, 1905,  1911, 1913, 1917.
  • U.S. Census: 1910.
  • “Bunker, Capt. H.W.” Harvey County Early Settlers: Settler’s Cards in Small Metal File Box, HCHM Archives.
  • “Capt. Hubbard W. Bunker/Mrs. M.L. Howard Marriage License, 28 November 1877.”  Marriage License Collection, HCHM Archives.
  • 50th Anniversary Kansan, 22 August 1922.
  • “Lieut. Reuben Howard” (1831-1875) Find A Grave Memorial.