LINDSBORG – End of April, end of the Brunswick.
It was once a proud place and even as it grew old and worn, it tried to keep
the certain dignity of fallen royalty, its jewels gone, finery in tatters, wardrobe
threadbare – all the while, chin up.
The old building at Main and Grant is no longer a shabby lament for the
city's nuisance code. A week into May, the jagged remnants of the north and east
walls were broken and hauled up. The Brunswick Hotel is now a memory rising
over a tattered vacant lot, a glorious ghost soon to drift away.
The Brunswick had emerged in 1887 as a three-story, 32-room hotel with all
the splendid flourishes of Romanesque revival with its tower, curves and corner
angles, accents along the roof and eaves. The copper, the stained glass and
elegant brickwork breathed dignity, and the high, arched windows were set just
so, to catch the light. In its day and for decades it was a glorious place.
Now it's gone, the result of neglect, that virus often fatal to great buildings.
Over time ‒ in this case, more than 130 years ‒ grandeur fades and indifference
creeps in. The Brunswick has been a stark reminder that the care and feeding of
an eminent structure are, in the long run, more critical than the initial cost –
$22,000 – to build it.
Last November, the Lindsborg City Council condemned the place and
ordered its demolition. The Brunswick had been an official nuisance since July
2018, tagged with a sheaf of municipal building code violations: holes in the
roof, windows broken or boarded or missing, numerous sections without bricks
or mortar; all and more threatened the structural integrity of the building. Inside,
the plumbing, wiring and walls were of keen interest to building inspectors. The
owners had moved to North Carolina; the place had been unoccupied since
November 2016. The taxes had been paid.
In the early 2000s, a few people were interested in buying the Brunswick,
owned since 1990 by people in Jewell County. There were announcements of a
sale, or potential sale, only to have them fizzle out. Even the slightly curious
were set back when experts had a look and told them what it might cost to bring
the building up to code ($500,000 at least?), and then to make the place
appealing to a restaurateur, a renter, a guest, or to someone passing by (a
The Brunswick was sold in 2003 and the new owners labored to reestablish
the building as a place of community activity – for showing movie classics, and
for meetings and receptions. In April 2004 and 2005, the Brunswick was host
site for the final four competition in the national intercollegiate chess
And yet the place couldn't catch on. The Brunswick continued to need care,
maintenance, and improvements, and carried an obligation for property taxes – a
combination of considerable cost. The building’s exterior began to fade and the
place grew shabby, mysterious. For a few years, feral cats roamed the building
and it became noticeably odorous. The cats were sent away, carpets were
removed, the building continued to deteriorate.
The Brunswick was built by a stock company to attract business as well as
pleasure seekers, and featured display facilities for salesmen and a large dining
room. It was advertised as one of the finest hotels in Kansas. E.M. (Ed) Weddle
was manager and director until his retirement in 1946. The Weddles lived next
to the hotel in what is now part of the Raymer Society Red Barn Studio and
Museum. The Weddles’ daughter, Ramona, was born in the hotel and later
married Lester Raymer, the celebrated Lindsborg artist. Raymer died in 1991.
During the early years, decorated horse-drawn coaches brought people from
the railroad stations to the hotel. Celebrity guests included many of the divas
who performed in Ling Auditorium at Bethany College, and soloists for Bethany
Oratorio Society performances of the Messiah.
Theodore Roosevelt, as a presidential candidate in 1904, made Lindsborg and
the Brunswick a stop on his campaign tour.
Forty years ago a couple who had owned the Brunswick removed the third
floor and created a fine dining restaurant and private club. It was popular for
The old place was sold by online auction last summer. The Brunswick, once
tuned to the clocks of railroad depots, was closed by the clock for demolition.
The gleaming old passenger trains, the guests, the fine dining, the beauty and
fun of the place, are long departed.
The Brunswick brings a cautionary tale, a lesson in treasures built for the long
run. The greatest monuments are no stronger than the care that goes into them.