Looking Back: The Building at 214 Main

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

This article is part of a series, Looking Back at the Oldest Buildings on Newton’s Main Street.

The buildings on the east side of the 200 block of Main in Newton are some of the oldest buildings in Newton, several dating between 1886 and approximately 1895,  including the buildings at 214 and 216 Main. Although this post will focus on 214, the adjacent building was constructed at the same time and still retains many features from 1889-1895. These features include the cornice and the original shape of the windows on the second floor is also apparent even though they have been brick in.

214 & 216 Main, Newton, 2006. Both buildings were built in ca. 1890-95.

A Wood Frame Stucture at 214 Main

According to the 1884 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Newton, there was a small, wood frame building, identified as a drugstore, located at 214 Main.

200 Block 1884
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

As the block begins to fill in over the next several years the small drugstore remains at 214 with a grocery store at 212.

In 1884, Thomas H. Sharits moved his barber shop to 214 Main for a short time.  Tom Sharits was described as a “good barber, has a neatly furnished, pleasant shhop and gives general satisfaction to his customers.” He also had a reputation as “the great Jack Rabbit destroyer.” The papers mention his hunting ability several times including successful coyote hunts. Throughout the 1880s and 90s, Sharits moved the location of his barber shop several times.

Newton Daily Republican, 24 August 1890

The earliest Newton City Directories also indicate that this building also served as a boarding house with two boarders living at 214 Main in 1887.

In 1889, the Badger Store, which carried a bit of everything, was located at 214.

Saturday Evening KansasCommoner, 20 Sept 1889

200 Block 1886
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Saturday Evening Kansas Commoner, 11 October 1889

Another business that located in the building was Powell & Krueger. In 1892, they advertised that  “you produce is money . . . you can buy anything with”  at their store located at 214 Main.

Weekly Republican, 5 April 1895.

A New Brick Building at 214 – 216 Main

An exact date for the buildings at 214 and 216 Main has not been definitely established, however by 1896, there are 3 substantial brick and stone buildings at 216, 214, 212 Main, perhaps constructed at the same time.   A second hand store was located at 216 Main, a General Store at 214 and a Bakery at 212.

200 Block 1896
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps


Newton, 1899. Parade 200 Block of Main east side. The edge of 214 Main is visible – see arrow.

The March 28, 1902 Newton Daily Herald  noted that one of the leading enterprises on the south side is the grocery and bargain store of W.D. Congdon.” After one year in his new location at 214 Main he “has built up an extensivve trade.”  The second floor had rooms for boarding.

200 block of N. Main, Newton, KS, c. 1910. 214 Main indicated with an arrow. Businesses on the east side of the street are identified in a note glued to the back of the mounting. The businesses are Star Grocery, Up-To-Date Steam Laundry, a junk store with Ringling Bros. advertising on it, Toevs Bros. Grocery, Cavneys (sp.) Wallpaper Store, Pete Park’s Meat Market, Kruegers Grocery Store and then Young’s Grocery Store in 300 block.

Newton. c. 1910. Intersection of east 3rd and Main. 214 Main is indicated with an arrow. Looking east down East Third Street from Main. Church with steeple, upper left center, is German M. E. Church, 215 E. 3rd, (1905 Newton City Directory), later purchased by First Church of God.

The front facade underwent significant change  between 1920 and the late 1930s to the current look of the building. The second floor bay window and the tin cornice removed. The second story windows were also changed to a square shape. The general appearance of the front facade was more flat.

East side of 200 Block of Main, Newton, ca. 1940.

The Movie Theater

In the 1940s and 50s the building provided a space for one of several Newton movie theaters.

Newton. 1946. Rex Theatre, 214 N. Main. Movie poster reads: “Child of Divorce.”


Exterior black and white photocopy showing Roxy Theater, 214 North Main, Newton, Ks. LaVern Hein Plumbing and Heating business to the south (right side of picture) and a bar to the north.

Over the years these two buildings have housed many varied businesses as Newton changed and grew. The appearance of the two buildings also underwent changes with each decade. Although the front facades have been altered, the buildings at 214-216 Main are part of a small group of structures that remain from the 1880s-1890s.

Additional Sources

  • Weekly Republican: 20 September 1889
  • Newton Daily Republican:  16 July 1890

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.