The Renfro Hotel

Project: The Renfro Hotel, Wichita, Kansas
Client: Developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey with Farha Construction
Services by Spencer Preservation: Application for Federal and State Historic Tax Credits
Investment: $2,400,000

The Renfro Hotel reopened in 2012 as the Renfro Apartments on East Douglas Avenue in Wichita.  The hotel was constructed in 1908 by Judge Jesse Newton Haymaker, a figure of prominence in Wichita legal, social, and religious circles. 

Judge Haymaker leased the hotel to W.G. Layle who operated the 50-room hotel.  The hotel was renamed “The Alton Hotel” in 1917, operated by S.C Adair.  In 1923 Haymaker entered into a lease with Frank Dean with B.M. Levitt Clothing Store occupying the first floor and The Alton Hotel remaining on the upper floors.  From 1942-1945, the hotel was owned and operated by Roy Minnich.  Following Roy Minnich’s retirement, the building was purchased by Wesley C. Renfro.  Wesley remodeled and reopened as The Renfro Hotel in 1946; it continued operation as the Renfro into the 1970s.

The hotel is a three-story Classical Revival building with tan brick facade that features stone detailing.  The hotel is listed as a contributing member to the East Douglas Avenue Historic District.

Most recently known as Victoria Park Apartments, the hotel was converted to apartments in the 1980s but suffered from a lack of general maintenance and dated systems.  The building was purchased by Eyster Properties in 2012.  With a goal of providing affordable housing in downtown Wichita, partners Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey of Wichita undertook a complete building rehabilitation project in collaboration with local contractor, Ted Farha and Cathcart Architects also of Wichita.  The building was remodeled into 20 apartments featuring two-story live-work units on the ground floor.  The project also maintained two commercial spaces along the street front.  Spencer Preservation worked with the team to achieve a successful rehabilitation project that was approved for federal and Kansas rehabilitation tax credits.   

Apartments feature original wood floors and pressed-tin ceilings teamed with modern amenities in kitchens and bathrooms.  Unique touches in specific apartments include a restored skylight along the west side of the building, glass block at former garage openings, and an overhead garage door at one of the live-work units on the ground floor.  The building features high-efficient heat pumps with individual controls in each apartment. 


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