Anniversary of Carry Nation's Attack on Eaton
Built in 1886, the building we know as the Eaton Hotel began as the Carey House Hotel, named for Wichita mayor and businessman, John B. Carey, who owned it. Carey built the five-story brick hotel, located on the southwest corner of Douglas and St. Francis, in a beautiful Second Empire style. It’s exterior featured two-story arches framed with cut stone at the east and north entrances. A square tower extends from the top of the building’s northeast corner.
The Carey House Bar
Where the hotel’s exterior dazzled visitors, the interior was equally impressive. The Carey House hotel was home to one of the most elegant bars in the Midwest. The “show saloon of Wichita,” it featured a large mirror behind the bar and a large nude painting titled “Cleopatra at the Bath” by the notable Wichita artist John Nobel.
It is likely due to the elegance of the Carey Hotel bar, that it drew the attention of the militant prohibitionist, Carry Nation, in 1900.
Nation’s first husband had suffered from alcoholism, so she knew the evils of the substance first-hand. When his addiction eventually killed him, Nation took it upon herself to do away with alcohol altogether-- by destroying the saloons in which it was served.
Carry Nation's Wichita Attack
When Nation arrived at the Carey House on Dec. 27, she bore no intention of staying. She had one destination: the swankiest bar in the Midwest.
Nation waged an attack on the hotel bar, as she had done to so many others, but there is some dispute over exactly how the attack on the Carey House bar occurred. Many believe that Nation took to the bar with the trusty hatchet for which her temperance campaign was known, while others have reported that she threw billiard balls at the mirror and Nobel’s painting of Cleopatra, damaging them both. In any case, the bar was left in a sad state with several thousands of dollars with of damage. Nation was placed in jail after the attack, but was released shortly thereafter. It was around this time that she became nationally known for her hatchet wreckage of saloons.
Carey House Hotel Remodeled
In 1905, the building was remodeled, with major projects taking place in the lobby and the mezzanine.
A new wing was added on the hotel’s west side, and the original bar was removed.
The polished and upscale hotel lobby, circa 1931, is pictured, showing off the renovation work that had taken place several years before.
The hotel was later renamed the Eaton Hotel.
Today, the renovated building offers apartments on its upper levels, and its two original ballrooms can be rented for parties and events.
Carry Nation Memorial Fountain
A Carry Nation memorial fountain, dedicated to the late Carry Nation by the Women's Christian Temperance Union, stands in Wichita's Naftzger Park.
The fountain was originally built outside of Wichita's train station, where it stood until the station closed. The fountain was eventually moved to a warehouse where it remained until it was retrieved for use at Old Cowtown Museum in the 1980's, according to roadsideamerica.com.
It wasn't until the late 80's that the fountain was moved to its current location at Naftzger.