Fake History Removed!

I’m so used to seeing real history destroyed or covered up that it kind of shocks me when I see the reverse happen.  This stone storefront is a good example.  When I first noticed this building in Hays, Kansas, I was puzzled by the clapboard fake front (complete with fake shuttered windows) and wondered why anyone would prefer a wood front to a stone front.  Thanks to Google Street View, I just discovered that the fake facade has been removed and the true history has been revealed (second photo below).  Now if they could just get rid of the non-historic covering over the sidewalk which is pretending to be historic…


Fake facades like this give a distorted view of history.
Fake facades like this give a distorted view of history.  It’s a Drag-Queen version of history: A Hollywood version of a Western storefront tacked onto a genuine, authentic, Western storefront!


With the fake facade gone, the true proportions and scale of an historic storefront grace the street again.
With the fake facade gone, an actual – rather than contrived – bit of history can be appreciated.


MUCH better!  The cornice appears to be a bit younger than the rest of the building, but unless documentation could be found for the appearance of the original it would be a mistake to remove it.  It would not be mistake to remove the Neo-Victorian porch thing.



4 Responses to Fake History Removed!

  1. I can’t help but wonder how much of what’s there now is fake too. I’ve never seen more inept Victorian stonework on a facade, which leads me to believe it might not be Victorian. (Usually Victorian commercial buildings are built of brick, not stone.) The front of this building looks like it’s been rebuilt at some point using salvaged dressed stone. Unfortunately, the work was done by an unskilled laborer without benefit of either chalk line or plumb bob. It’s an affront to the dressed stone he was given. I can see why someone might have preferred a fake wood front.

    The cornice looks like it was designed for a taller building. It probably was installed when they put up the wood false front. It’s most likely authentic Victorian salvage, but it’s out of scale on this building. I’m guessing it would take at least another four feet of building height to get it to look right. It did not look nearly so bad when it was part of the wood front, painted gray above a white wall with three fake windows that extended downward to about the first floor window line. If it is original, then it was picked out of a catalog and plopped blindly onto the building. Maybe a decent paint scheme would help. In white it definitely detracts.

    The iron columns on either side of the entrance niche are surely original, as is everything painted green. But the white triangular traceries are from a Victorian house, not a Victorian storefront. And of course the marquee thingy is salvage from somewhere else as well, probably a pergola from someone’s garden. There are indications the building may have had a canvas awning mounted above the windows. That’s the only thing that makes me think this stonework might actually be original.

    Hays, Kansas, fortunately has many nice authentic Victorian commercial buildings in a good state of preservation. They’ve even got a well-built stone hardware store from 1894. This building is one of those poorly designed, poorly built constructions that every age has, but usually gets torn down by a later generation to put up a parking lot. I almost mourn the passing of the fake wood front because what its removal revealed is so ungainly.

    • I disagree. This building is definitely Victorian era construction. Stone was the dominant building material in the early days of Hays. The authentic stone facade is much preferable to the fake wood front. Only removing the fake wood porch covering the sidewalk would improve it now.

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