Kansas is among 13 states and territories nominating historic properties to be included on the National Register of Historic Places to The National Park Service. Two of the sites are within an hour’s drive of Great Bend. One, the Hotel Roberts, once belonged to the former Great Bend hoteliers Clement C. “Monte” and Ruth “Betty” Parrish.
According to the Kansas Historical Society, construction of the hotel was initiated by the Pratt Chamber of Commerce which formed a committee in the late 1920s specifically to facilitate the construction of a large new hotel.
“Seen as a potentially valuable asset for the community, the hotel was financed in part through a public subscription campaign, and constructed on land provided by the Chamber,” according to the KHS website.
Historically significant because it is an early example of the Art Deco architectural style, it was first listed on the state register in November, 2014. It opened in 1930 as the Hotel Roberts, but in 1959 was purchased by Monte Parish, and the name was changed to the Hotel Parrish. It was closed in 1970 and has been vacant for several years and the interior has deteriorated in some areas, according to the property inventory. It is unknown if it was used for any other purpose in the interim.
The Parrish family also owned the Hotel Parrish in Great Bend, which was located on the corner of 12th and Main Street where OPI is located today. According to court documents, Parrish paid arsonists $10,000 in 1967 to burn the hotel to the ground so he could collect the insurance money, He was convicted of burning insured property and burning the personal property of another (such as the personal belongings of guests of the hotel). He appealed in 1970 and the conviction was upheld. This coincided with the closing of the Hotel Parrish at Pratt.
According to her obituary in the Topeka Capital Journal, Betty Parrish moved to Topeka in 1977 to retire. A well educated woman with two bachelors degrees from Kansas State University, retirement was not for her. She quickly became involved in assisting political candidates and developed a new career in the Constituent Services Office of Governor John Carlin. She died in 2009, preceded by Monte in 1985.
Parish was remembered as both a humanitarian and a controversial character. In addition to his many hotels and restaurants and other business interests, he had a long and decorated military career, achieving the rank of Major General before he retired in 1966. He was present for the D-Day Invasion, and at the landing at Omaha Beach. Several of his acquaintances felt he was framed because he was the only person charged and convicted with the crime, even though he was in Washington D.C. when the fire occurred.
Also near Great Bend is the Ira E. Lloyd Bed and Breakfast in Ellsworth. The establishment sits in an agricultural area outside the city, and the nomination is for the stock farm, not the building.
The complete list of nominations include:
Hotel Roberts, Pratt County
Lloyd, Ira E, Stock Farm, (Agriculture-Related Resources of Kansas MPS), Ellsworth County
Smith, Ray L., House, Butler County
Wirkler--Krehbiel House, Harvey County
Little Stranger Church and Cemetery,Leavenworth County
Dalton Gang Hideout and Museum, (Roadside Kansas MPS) 502 S. Pearlette St., Meade, 14001121, Meade County
Requests for removal have been received for two Kansas sites. They include the First Presbyterian Church of Abilene in Dickenson County, and the Rush County Line Bridge, one of the Masonry Arch Bridges of Kansas, 11 miles north of Otis.
Other nominating states and territories include Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Puerto Rico.