Vickers station was worth saving

By The Active Age | May 1, 2024

Read with interest your story on vintage Wichita architecture (“Mid-century modern buildings worth saving,” April 2024). In the 1990s, I was assistant vice president and head of the real estate division of the Intrust Bank trust department. One of several buildings around Wichita with heritage architecture that I dealt with was the iconic Vickers gas station in Haysville.

The station had been closed and the underground fuel tanks removed to prevent any pollution from leaks. A couple of small businesses had leased it but were not successful. It sat empty for a couple of years, and I had received a couple of offers from possible buyers who wanted to bulldoze the station and use the lot for some purpose. But they were always very low-ball offers, so I dragged my feet hoping that someone would want to save and capitalize on the unique architecture. I inspected it every year. The concrete aged some but remained in good condition.

The 1999 Haysville tornado, which went right over the station, only broke one window and peeled some areas of the tar roofing material off the concrete roof. There was no real material damage.

In the late ’90s the city, Sedgwick County and railroad came to an agreement to take out the dangerous railroad crossing and build the overpass you see today. Sedgwick County used its powers of eminent domain to acquire the property for additional space, and I negotiated the deal with them.

I fully expected the station would be demolished at that point, but the county let it stand and the construction companies used it for storage.

Sometime after the overpass completion, the county transferred the property to the city of Haysville, which installed its Economic Development Office in it — a great example of re-use and recycling of buildings in our community.

— Richard Basore  

Bentley, Kansas