Sunday, October 30, 2022

The Hicks Block

Elhanan Hicks was a Topeka realtor and capitalist who, during an economic boom in the 1880s, acquired a permit to build a tenement and business flat at present-day 6th and Tyler. The initial plan was estimated to cost $20,000, but eventually rose to an actual cost near $50,000. During the 1880's boom land values skyrocketed, and confidence and optimism supplanted forethought. Hicks Block was built at the apex of the boom, but eventually the depression found its way to Topeka and took a huge toll. The population dropped an astounding 5,511 people during the 6 years after the boom, and with them many businesses and investments. Elhanan Hicks was one of the casualties of the depression, summarily disappearing from Topeka directories after 1891.

Soon after, Hicks Block was converted into apartment homes and continues to serve temporary residents to this day. Being from an era when entrepreneurs would adorn their names on their buildings, Hicks Block was built to enrich the capital city for many years to come and was included in the National Register in 1977. Over the years, Hicks Block fell into disrepair despite still being occupied. Over the last few years, a new owner took over and has been restoring Hicks Block to its former glory.

Below are photos from a tour featuring an untouched apartment and one that has been restored. The above information came from the Ward-Meade Neighborhood Improvement Association.