The town of Ellinwood, Kansas just east of Great Bend, is known for its underground tunnels built back in the 1920’s. Now, a man is working to refurbish an old hotel (http://www.historicwolfhotel.com) above some of those tunnels to preserve the history. Chris McCord was born and raised in Ellinwood. He knew the heritage of the underground city, filled with a speakeasy and brothel back in the 20s.
“Growing up I remember always looking up from the stoplight and wondering what it looked like from up here so now it’s kind of neat to be on the opposite of that spectrum,” said McCord. Now, after growing up admiring the Old Wolf Hotel, he’s getting a chance to restore it, after purchasing it last May. “Potentially someone could buy that for storage or just tear it down and I didn’t want to see that, I really feel like with its location, and with its age and you can see so much character, I really feel like this is the heart of Ellinwood and I really wanted to preserve that.”
Thanks to a lot of work from volunteers the hotel is now open and the dining room can be rented out, but his project is far from over.
It’s been around 40 years since anyone has been in this part of the Ellinwood tunnels and they’re being refurbished back to their 1920’s state with things including a saloon.
“This addition known as the Sunflower dining room was added on, everything is original from the terrazzo floor to the tin ceiling and best of all is the original plaster casts of the wheat and the sunflowers above.”
McCord said when he bought the building, he wasn’t planning on making it a functional hotel, but people started to call wanting a room, even though the rooms didn’t have beds yet.
“I always laugh and say that this building is telling me what it wants to happen, people came and literally stayed in sleeping bags to stay here and that’s when I realized that it needed to be much more than what I was doing with it.”
The hotel has a few rooms open now, and the tunnels are being renovated to hold “murder mystery” parties and other events.
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