El Paso Business District (Historic Landmark #2)
On July 11, 1871, J. Hout Minnich and John Hufbauer filed a town plat for El Paso in Sedgwick County, Kansas. It established streets from Madison to Kay and from Water Street to Georgie Avenue, and business boomed.
Around the turn of the century, most buildings in downtown El Paso were on Baltimore Avenue between Main and Washington streets, and many changed uses or owners as the city progressed. An example is T. D. Wardell Hardware, first located on the first floor of Odd Fellows Hall and then moved west across the street to its own building on the property where you are standing.
Note the evolution of the Farmers & Merchants Bank building’s facade. After the bank currently located at Market and Baltimore was built, the original bank building was sold to El Paso Water Company, then several years later to a realtor and then back to the bank. It was torn down to accommodate expansion and parking. The block between Market and Washington had barbers, dry goods, groceries and other services. The Sickler brothers were two of the proprietors.
South of Market Street were the Independent Oil Company and Gertie’s Café. Near the center of the block was H. Jones General Store, which later became Lock Edwards Grocery, and then in the 1930s Chet Smith Grocery and Locker. In 2019, this building now houses professional offices. Just south of Kay Street was the grain elevator and nearby railroad depot, which occupied three locations over the years.
On the east side were the Odd Fellows Hall and Davidson & Case Lumber Company. This site later became the Trading Post Lumber Yard for a number of years and in 2019 is occupied by the Baltimore Market Place. In the early days, the post office was a pigeon-hole cabinet in the front of someone’s store, and as the community grew, it expanded and moved locations several times.
A hotel on Washington Street was built in the late 1800s, and in 1904 the Weston family purchased it. In the very early days, a public horse watering trough was in the middle of Baltimore at Washington. The original Catholic mission church was south at Kay Street. Just to your north, the First Presbyterian Church remains at its original location, although the 1879 building was replaced in 1926 and again in 1990.