Awards of Excellence:
Wiley Building

Year(s) Listed:
Location Class:
Built: 1912 | Year Saved:
Contributor: Kansas Preservation Alliance

In 1912, dry goods merchant Vernon Wiley announced plans to build an 8-story concrete and steel skyscraper that would be twice as tall as any other building in downtown Hutchinson at the time. Searching for $350,000 in funding, Wiley traveled to New York with building plans in hand. After multiple rejections, he successfully piqued the interest of Chase Manhattan Bank. Local lore tells that the president of Chase Manhattan said, “If you have nerve enough to build an eight story skyscraper out in the middle of the prairie, we ought to have the nerve to lend you the money.” After being built utilizing the newest in electric power tools and a 24-hour construction schedule, 10,000 people flocked to the grand opening. Wiley’s new store occupied the first four floors, with a tea room on the mezzanine. Over 90 office suites occupied the remainder of the building. With the closing of the Wiley store in 1990, the building sat vacant until the present rehabilitation of the first floor for commercial tenant space, and floors 2-9 for housing. Exterior work included replacement of non-historic windows with new thermal one-over-one sash windows to reflect the original glazing pattern and profile, replacement of non-historic storefronts with historically appropriate aluminum storefronts, and restoration of terra-cotta. Although many of the character-defining features on the building’s interior had been compromised in past remodeling projects, those features that remained, including the open character of the first-floor commercial spaces, historic circulation patterns and historic corridor finishes, including terrazzo floors on the upper levels, were preserved.

Federal historic preservation tax credits were utilized to fund this rehabilitation.

The project team included: Wiley Plaza LLC, WDM Architects, MKEC Engineering Consultants Inc, Key Construction, Davis Preservation, First National Bank of Hutchinson, WNC & Associates, Inc, Historic Preservation Partners, Inc., Manske & Associates, LLC, and the City of Hutchinson.

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