Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Foley Tractor, by Architect, W. I. Fisher, Wichita, Kansas - Then and Now

Here is a vintage photo of a landmark Wichita, Kansas business, Foley Tractor. Now known as Foley Equipment, the original building by Architect, W. I. Fisher, displayed that wonderful everyday modern commercial style that is disappearing so fast. This one is close to my heart because I rode by this one often when I was a kid. It was just down West Street from the Wichita John Deere dealer in a similar building that my dad visited frequently. I borrowed this estate sale photo from KCMODERN friend, Keith Wondra's Flickr site, kawwsu29. He was kind enough to let us use it.

THEN -- I love how the large expanses of glass act as a billboard for the sale of the Caterpillar industrial equipment displayed in the showroom. Can you imagine driving by at night when the brightly painted, industrial yellow equipment was lit up behind that glass? The neon Caterpillar sign over the exposed steel canopy at the entrance was a nice touch too!

NOW-- It appears that a 1970's brick redo was done to the glass parts of the facade. This was probably done because the large expanses of south and west facing glass caused the showroom space to overheat in the summer. You can see that the industrial steel window sash is still intact in the left background. This is probably a shop area and might be older than the vintage showroom.
INTERIOR -- The vintage interior was clean and modern too. I bet they no longer display Caterpillar equipment in there since the equipment has gotten much larger and it appears that the overhead door is no longer there. The business was already closed for the evening so I didn't get a new shot of the interior.


Scott said...

Cool vintage building, Robert. You don't see many showrooms for large equipment. When traveling these days, you usually see the merchandise parked outside of the business...hard to imagine a proud owner of a large piece of equipment saying "I bought it off the showroom floor"... very cool...

Anonymous said...

I came across you blog today and wanted to say thank you for sharing it. I am W. I. Fisher's grandson. My Grandfather passed away on January 12, 2009 here in California. There will be a Memorial Service for him on April 17, 2009 at Downing & Lahey Mortuary East in Wichita Kansas.
Thank You agian for sharing a little bit history about my Grandfather.
Robert Carstensen

robert said...

I am glad to hear that you enjoyed the photo and sorry for your loss.

Can you shed some light on how that photo would be at an estate sale in Wichita? Was your grandfather still living in Wichita shortly before his death?

kawwsu77 said...

I am the one that let Robert use the photos from the estate sale. From what I heard from the people running the estate sale the owner of the photos worked with the architect.

robert said...

kawwsu 77:

Do you think that this means that W.I. Fisher was not the architect of record?

Anonymous said...

W. I. Fisher only moved to California in the middle of 2008. My mother remembers that he worked on this project. My Grandfather designed several buildings in the Wichita area, including ones for Wichita State University, the Wichita Eagle building and a few department stores. He also desinged several prisons through out the mid-west.

Sandi said...

My father, W.. I. Fisher, was the architect for that building. After my mother passed away Jan. 20, 2008, I brought my father out to California to be able to take care of him. I have a small notebook that he put down every building he did. It starts in 1943 and ends when he retired. His first building that he did was adding a second story to a building at Boeing around 1942. Many of the pictures of the buildings he did were at that estate sale. I just do not have room here at home for them.

Tulsi said...

Hi, searching in the web who build the Starlite Motor Lodge in Wichita i found in wichita eagle that was Arquitect W.I. Fisher.
i am the manager of the motel and i need to get the construction plan of the buliding. please let me know if u have any idea...tulsidahya@gmail.com