ELLINWOOD — “Po-Tree by Toni B: Brightly she stands by the old hotel door, a dowdy old doll in her faded best. Her smile never fades her eyes never dim. For whom does she wait— a knight on a quest: Each morning at nine, her friends bring her there, whatever the weather— rain, sunshine or wind. She stands and she waits, quiet, friend, and hopeful, until in the evening her friend takes her in.”
Miss Sally, a mannequin, was dressed every day in her business-like best by former owner, Bill Starr, and partner Jim Elliott, of the Wolf Hotel, according to the season. They placed her by the front door of the former antique business to signify the Ellinwood store was open.
She fell into the street one day and was hit by a semi. Fortunately, her injuries were not too significant, and she still quietly stands in the hotel vault, symbolizing the history of a once grand hotel.
Tightly interwoven with the rich history of the community, the halls of the hotel echo with the monument it once was and the monument it can once again become.
Built in 1894, the Wolf Hotel on the corner of Main and U.S. Highway 56 has recently been purchased by Ellinwood native Christopher McCord.
“I bought it because I believe in maintaining the integrity of downtown,” he said. “It’s the heart of Ellinwood.”
He and his partner Kelli Penner have many plans for the building. Penner is opening a photography studio in a basement room. McCord would like to restore the hotel for its original use, as a hotel.
The building was named after the original owner, John Wolf, and a dining room was added by his son Fred Wolf in 1923, according to the application for the National Register of Historic Places.
Originally, both sides of the building were accessible by the Ellinwood tunnels. Portions of the tunnels have been filled in, but at one time, the southeast basement was the city library. The outside access to that side of the building was closed during recent street reconstruction.
McCord plans to show the remaining portions of the tunnel. The tunnels remain an important icon for Ellinwood and tourists who travel to see them. His portion of the tunnels contains the only remnant of the wooden sidewalk that was once used.
The basement of the building had full usage during it’s heyday. It served as a lunch restaurant, men’s club, a drummer’s room, which is where merchants could purchase merchandise, city hall and the city library.
During World War I and II, some residents of German descent took refuge in the tunnels due to the animosity they faced with the wars, according to the National Historic Register.
There is no definite opening date, but McCord will be offering tours during the After Harvest Festival. “We want people to come in, see the place, ask questions if they have any, and share some history with us.”