No, I don't know what this is, either. It's the inside of the St. Anthony Main theater, a wall that goes back a century or more. It's one of my favorite places downtown; don't know anyone who doesn't like it. A street of old restored buildings on the riverbank. Behind and around, housing; lots of new units. It used to be the coolest shopping and drinkings venues by the University - a rehabbed industrial facility stocked with unique stores and restaurants. Wildly successful. They built a huge new addition. Jacked up the rents. Had stores that didn't quite fit the demographics of the neighborhood. The whole damned thing collapsed.

You know, I could google around a bit before concluding that I don't what that says. Back in a moment.

Okay, that didn't take long.

I'm surprised I found that. But I shouldn't be. That's the miracle of the internet. A good thing to remember when we're all complaining about the internet, and for good reason; it's full of awful people and seems to be managed by companies whose basic awfulness is becoming more and more obvious. But it's still an age of marvels, if you grew up in the 60s and 70s dreaming about the future.

Stood outside and watched a live spaceship launch from Russia on my device today. I just don’t want to say I watched on my phone, because that reduces the device down to its least-used componant, and I hate the term “mobile” as much as I hate the term “social” -

See, you start talking about something miraculous and you start picking on it right away because of an annoyance that wouldn't matter at all if the whole thing wasn't such an enormous part of your life. No one gets annoyed by the peculiar or twee name for a piece of your dinner table.

By we and you I mean me, as usual.

Anyway, busy day and a column to write, so let's saddle up the nuke and get to the slim pickings.

Note: snowflake divider line applies because a storm is forecast for the weekend.


The last batch for this year, I think. The quality of the set-up varies, but let me tell you - for the time, it was quite novel.

Nevertheless, I am not sure what the Worst That Is About To Come might be here.

The child fears a beating, perhaps. But the punchlines were never what someone feared; they were always what was inevitable.

The worst that is about to come? Penury and debt:


Mind you, this is 102 years ago. Do your Xmas Shopping early.

A little bit of Distant City here:

I'm starting to think that these children are imps, sent by the devil to cause pain and suffering.

The worst in this case: severe arse-pecking.

I think he was starting to run dry.




It’s too bad there aren’t any Falls nearby. Well, let’s see what the 20th century left as it filled the sails of this Kansas community. I don’t know why I’ve started here, except that it’s an interesting contrast. Something got knocked down, and the other building isn’t going to move a muscle.


We go to the Pratt Tribune, whose founders never thought the URL would have three consecutive Ts.

The same old story: it opened in 1930, which couldn’t have been worse.

With only two floors completely finished, the hotel opened for business in June. Room rates were $1.75 for rooms with a lavatory and stool and $2.50 for rooms with a complete bathroom. The hotel contained 85 guest rooms, three apartments, a Grill Room, barber shop, drug store, and a ballroom and was considered the ultimate in luxury.

The hotel lost $500 in the first month but made $750 the next month. The Pratt Hotel Company failed to reach its goal of $120,000 and the Elson Construction Company assumed ownership in 1933.

According to that newspaper story from 2009, it had been vacant for 20 years, but you know it’s going to end up as housing. Possibly senior housing. Googling . . . ah. Opened in 2015 as an apartment building. It’s going by its last name, the Parrish. The interiors do not appear to be overly bestowed with charm.


As Google Street View saw it before the overhaul:



Another addition to the city in 1930:


They liked ‘em crisp. This was the Convention Center whose construction spurred the Hotel project. Fun detail: “A new auditorium floor was installed after a Shrine Circus elephant fell through.” Poor elephant.

Nice job preserving this one . . .


And a lousy job on the ground floor. Another 1930 building: banner year for Pratt!

Closed in 2013; the website is now all Chinese. Comments at Cinema Treasures say it’ll be converted to a Christian Youth Organization HQ.

An example of the way modernization can erase the boundaries between different buildings, and relegate the upstairs to unpersonhood:


It’s almost like they were ashamed to cover it up:

Or perhaps something fell off and revealed the old OXFORD PAPER sign.

For all its disharmony, it’s actually not bad.

Did you notice the disharmony? The way the first floor is arranged around thirds, and the second floor around fourths? The way the bricked-up window under the arch is a bit taller, which adds more visual discontinuity, but somehow is better now that it’s bricked?

Why yes. Yes it was exactly what you think it was.


Cinema Treaasures: “The Kansas Theatre was built in 1940 for Charles Barron, and was located almost directly across the street from his Barron Theatre.”

The man made his mark.

A beaut:


But you’d be surprised to see what it looked like originally.

A strong windstorm damaged the third floor so severely that it had to be removed five or six years after construction. A turret was left above the entry. The lobby was lowered to street level in 1917. Much of the debris fell into the basement, forcing a tailor and barber to vacate the shops they leased. During the 1930s, the turret was removed and the deteriorating red brick was covered with the current buff brick.



More next week! Interesting little town.

So there you have it; on with your day, and enjoy.



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