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