Uniquities Home: Preserving History and Creating New Beginnings
Pieces of history that would have otherwise been forgotten, treasures from all over the world and more fill Robyn Well’s Old Town store. She’s cultivated an environment that is well-suited to the store’s name, Uniquities Home, as everything about the store is unique, from the items inside to the process by which they arrived there.
It all began with the implosion of Wichita’s famous Allis Hotel. Though the building was beautiful, it had structural problems that would have cost millions to fix. Though the city tried hard to save the hotel, the amount of repairs necessary was too extensive, and the building had to be demolished. Robyn's husband is a contractor, and he offered Robyn the opportunity to look around the gutted hotel and salvage any remaining items she liked.
“I’ve always loved to go there before they actually started demolishing it, and I’d say ‘Oh, I want this, and I want this and I want this’ and I never really knew what I would do with it, but a lot of times I just felt like it was history that was going to be destroyed and thrown in a dump somewhere, so I would drag home the most random things you’ve ever seen,” Robyn said.
Some of her first favorite finds were the iron light fixtures from the Allis Hotel. Robyn salvaged the beautiful iron lights from the hotel and had them welded together into a chandelier that now hangs in her loft. Since, Robyn has collected many other things from all over the world. She frequently visits demo sites, salvage yards and other markets in search of true “Uniquities.” Excited to share her passion for the pieces of history she’s salvaged with the public, she opened the Uniquities Home store in Old Town, where she sells not only architectural salvage elements, but also furniture, repurposed items, and antiques, and that’s just the beginning.
At Uniquities, everything is a treasure. The store expertly combines history with rebirth as many on the one-of-a-kind item were once old but have been made new, like one of Robyn’s favorite pieces in the store, the crucifix. Robyn found the cast iron crucifix, originally from France, laying in the dirt at a flea market and couldn’t pass it up. It had been painted with black and white flat house paint, and quite frankly, it was a mess.
“We brought him back and sandblasted him down and I had him painted by a friend of mine, and he just brought him to life. I had the cross made, and had the iron strappings made for him, and I think he looks amazing. He’s a piece of art,” Robyn said.
To truly get a feel for Uniquities Home and all that is has to offer, you’ve got to visit. With thousands of items on display, Robyn says you might just have to walk though the store multiple time to take it all in.
“When you walk in, it’s overwhelming,” Robyn said. “People walk in and say ‘Oh my gosh!’”
Uniquities is open once a month or by appointment. The store is open on the following dates in 2016: June 2-5, June 9-11, July 21-23, August 11-13, September 15-17, October 13-15, November 10-12 and 25-26, December 8-10, 15-17, and 22-23. The store is open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on these dates, and it’s located in the heart of Old Town at 141 N. Rock Island, so come check it out next time you’re downtown.