Ellinwood, Kan. -- In small communities, saving history is never easy. But Ellinwood resident Chris McCord is doing his best. He’s purchase the historic Wolf building on Main Street. His youth and enthusiasm see a ‘future’, where others may have only seen the past.
Over a year ago, Chris McCord bought the old building. In recent years it had been an antique store. But now Chris wants to restore it to its former luster.
“So we have to take some of the things we have like this building and maintain it in order to continue to grow.” says McCord.
He’s already finished several rooms in the upstairs portion of the building on his way to making it a bed & breakfast location.
“At times, it definitely is overwhelming. I’m fortunate though, in that the building is broken up into so many sections and parts, that we can start in a small area and with that project, we don’t feel so overwhelmed as with the project as a whole.”
An old cat that watches everything also guards a portion of the upstairs. And you will pet him.
“I want them to appreciate what it was and what it is and what it is becoming.”
Downstairs in a historic dining room, private parties are already being booked.
“This is the Sunflower Dining Room and it opened Easter Sunday of 1924. And it opened with a ‘live’ orchestra. This is the original terrazzo floor.”
But it’s not easy. Restoring history one leak at a time is how it works. Old buildings require constant attention, and Chris makes sure he’s on the case.
“It’s a roller coaster, however, I know that I am blessed to be doing something that I love.”
The front part of the building is currently used for church services. A bank used to occupy the space. But it’s been a long time since the old bank vault has been used.
“The last record that we show the bank vault had been serviced, was 1942.”
Nearby, a mannequin in ‘red’ has been a fixture at the building for at least 40 years. Sometimes she’s inside, sometimes out….but everyone knows her.
“The 40 years the antique store was in the building, Sally would stand outside the door signaling that the business was open.”
“Our main project right now is this suite. It will be a fully functioning apartment on its own. Together we have a project, we tackle it, knock it out and it is always fun.”
And under the building, those famous ‘tunnels’ that once linked this building to others in the area and also to the train depot. They are part of the folklore, and part of the attraction that makes this building special.
“And I want people who visit this, to have a lasting and good impression. Ultimately, that’s what keeps people talking about it and that’s what keeps this building alive.”
“If the walls could talk, I would love to hear the stories.”
Chris credits what has happened so far with the building with friends and volunteers who pitch in to help.