Old Town District
Old Town is often considered the pulse of downtown Wichita, on the eastern edge of downtown proper and at the western edge of what’s considered the Douglas Design District. Distinctive architectural features of brick and native limestone define the character of Old Town. Among the brick-lined streets and historic lampposts are a collection of converted brick warehouses dating back to the late 1800s.
The area was born during the 1870s as a collection of warehouses that used various rail lines that ran throughout Old Town, connecting Wichita to St. Louis, Chicago and other eastern cities. During this time, the area was a bustling industrial and manufacturing center known for brands like The Coleman Company, Keen Kutter and International Harvester. By 1911, Wichita was the nation’s second-largest distribution point for agricultural implements. But as the country’s transportation industry shifted from rail to interstate trucking, many of the operations in Old Town were closed and the buildings were boarded up.
One such building built in 1906 was a warehouse facility for the Keen Kutter brand of tools, silverware, dishes and more. At the time, it was known as not only the strongest building in Wichita, but also the largest warehouse in the world. The warehouse was also identical in design to the Cupples Building in St. Louis.
Nearly a century later, in 1999, the building was renovated and opened as the Hotel at Old Town. The hotel conducted a search for Keen Kutter brand items and has since assembled the largest authentic collection of brand items, which can be viewed on each of the four floors of the hotel.
After revitalization efforts that began in the 1990s, the area is now a successful mix of more than 100 businesses, including restaurants, locally owned shops, clubs, theaters, galleries, museums, loft residences, public plazas and more.
Visitors will even find the Old Town Farmers’ Market happening outside in Old Town Square during the warmer months and indoors at WAVE during the winter months. Explore locally grown goods, artisan vendors and live entertainment every Saturday.