Century II

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Lawrence, Charles J.
Price, Jay M., 1969-

On January 11, 1969, Wichita's Century II opened its doors to begin its service to the community as a center for the performing arts, a business convention hall, and as host to an array of community shows and events. The building and its surrounding landscape are the product of years of planning and promotion that spanned nearly a half century, beginning with the new and progressive ideas of city planning that began in Wichita around World War I and culminating with the heavy hand of Urban Renewal. Wichita architect John Hickman designed the building, and his association with American architectural icon Frank Lloyd Wright provided a link to some of the most significant buildings in the US. This study is less about Century II itself than about the visions and forces that combined to bring the building to reality: the confluence of Wichita's business and arts community interests, the drive raise the city's stature, and an attempt to stem the national trend of declining downtown viability. The city overcame a number of difficulties in bringing the center to downtown Wichita. It withstood a city commission structure that was continually changing, a small but vocal group of disgruntled taxpayers and potential facility users, several arson fires, a struggle to displace the downtown business owners that occupied and surrounded the site, and the loss of its prime architect. The pressure proved too much for John Hickman, but the community as a whole stood behind the project along with the Eagle and Beacon newspapers, and the city commission moved haltingly but relentlessly towards Century II's completion.

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Thesis (M.S.)--Wichita State University, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of History