|Year(s) Listed: • 1993|
|City/Town: • Hutchinson|
|Location Class: • Commercial|
|Built: 1910 | Abandoned: 1985|
|Status: • Saved (2014)|
|Contributor: Kansas Preservation Alliance|
For more than half a century Wiley’s was the place to shop in Hutchinson.
Started by Vernon Wiley in 1901 as the Rorabaugh-Wiley Dry Goods Company the store originally stocked ladies’ cloaks, jackets and underwear for men and women, domestics, linens, dress goods and notions. A.O. Rorabaugh, whose home base was in Wichita, was considered “merchant Prince of the Southwest” and created an empire of department stores in Wichita, Emporia, Salina, Hutchinson, Newton and Oklahoma City.
Unlike his partner, Wiley concentrated on Hutchinson and in 1910 began building Wiley’s Department Store, an eight story building at the northeast intersection of north and main. No Kansas or Missouri banker would lend him more than $330,000 to finance its construction so he traveled to New York and convinced the president of the Chase National Bank to loan him the money. Supposedly the banker told him “Mr. Wiley, if you have the 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.”
The store closed in 1985 The Resolution Trust Corp. now owns the Wiley Building which is nearly vacant; just a few shops on the first floor are open for business. Laird said the RTC has not to date spent the money to correct life safety problems with the building and asbestos problems. Although it is eligible for being listed on the National Register of Historic Places it has not been placed on any landmark status.