Because of its historic downtown, Neodesha was selected as a Kansas Main Street City in 1993. The occidental Hotel, later owned by Carrie Brown, was then renamed the Brown Hotel. The wooden hotel was destroyed by fire in 1895. Carrie rebuilt this fine brick hotel in 1896 and added the verandah in 1905.
The building is currently being restored to be used by a private business.
Other buildings on the tour include the old City Building which was built after the city was founded in 1871. The original building had a stairway up the middle to the “opera house.” The upstairs also once held a roller skating rink.
The “Hull” building was built in the 1904 era. The buff brick used to build most of this building came from Buffville, north of Neodesha. This was the site of the first telephone office.
The Neodesha Cemetery has markers of some of the first founders and residents of early Neodesha. J.B. Keys, along with Robert S. Futhey discovered the present site of Neodesha. The claim to the land, bought for $500, had only previously been traded for a pony. Keys proceeded to build a sawmill, a flour & grist mill, and opened the first lumberyard. Allen R. McCartney was one of four original parnters in the Neodesha Town Company. Neodesha Derry was the first white birth to the settlement on March 5, 1870. T. J. Norman allowed developers to drill for a gas well on his property. Upon discovering oil, the first oil well of the mid-continent field bore his name. Carrie Brown rebuilt the Hotel in 1896 which became renowned for its cleanliness and service. Charles Seward was the first Neodeshan and Kansan killed in WWI.
Neodesha has several homes builit in the late 1800s and turn of the century. The beautiful Queen Anne Victorian style home at 7th and Main was built in 1898 by Dr. Allen, grandfather of Dr. Allen Moorhead, the current resident. Another of the late 19th century elaborate homes was built in 1895 by the Forrest Oil Company for its resident head. Forrest Oil Company was later acquired by the Standard Oil Company. Other historic homes on the tour date from 1899, 1900, 1904, 1910, 1913, and 1923.
NORMAN #1 HISTORIC OIL WELL AND MUSEUM
103 South 1st Street
Neodesha, Kansas 66757
Norman No. 1 Replica Well and Museum is a community museum in Neodesha, Kansas. The museum is open by appointment only, but it is located behind Uptown Salon and they are happy to show it if you call to schedule an appointment.
In addition to the many items donated by members of the community that you might find in any local historical museum there are two areas that stood out to us as more interesting to people from outside the community. The first is outdoors – the 67′ reconstruction of the oil derrick where oil first erupted in Neodesha in 1892. The well was the first commercially successful oil well west of the Mississippi. There is also a miniature reproduction of the well in the museum.
The actual well location was three blocks southeast of the museum, on land which was owned by T. J. Norman, on the bank of the Verdigris River. The developer plugged the well for ten months, while raising money to lease a million acres. They then started oil production. This well operated for 26 years, while the oil industry grew across Kansas.
Unique to the Norman #1 Museum is a small room of clown memorabilia. The contents were contributed by Tammy and Tom Parrish, a local couple who were Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Brothers Circus clowns.
copyright 2009-2020 by Keith Stokes