Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Historic T

I want to apologize for not visiting everyone yesterday, and for my late post, but Blogger was down in my area. I'll try to make it around to everyone today. If not, please don't think I've forgotten you.

So what does a bottle of old Mentholatum have to do with Kimmie and the other tea gals?

This building, seen from the side, used to be the original home of the Mentholatum Company. This majestic building, built in 1908, was the manufacturing plant for Mentholatum, a product developed right here in Wichita, KS by the Yucca Company founder, Albert Hyde. With the wild success of "Mentholatum Ointment" in December 1894, the company stopped selling shaving creams, soaps, and other cosmetics, and began selling only Mentholatum Ointment. The company name was changed in 1906

and this new building was built three years later. Another facility was built 10 years later in Buffalo, NY, which then became the world headquarters for the company. According to the Historic Preservation Alliance of Wichita and Sedgwick County's (HPA) web site:

On November 19, 2005, the Kansas Historic Sites Board of Review nominated the Mentholatum Company Building to the Kansas and National Register of Historic Places "for its architectural significance as a U. G. Charles design and for its association with A. A. Hyde, who founded the internationally known Mentholatum Company."

The Wichita facility was closed in 1935, when Albert Hyde died. According to an article in Wikipedia, a Japanese company purchased the company in 1975, having learned about it from a missionary who imported it there. The first photo in this post is also from that same article.

This state-of-the-art building (by 1908 standards) is still as well built and cared for as it was then. The building's history is remarkable (at least from an engineering standpoint). It contains the first concrete building in Wichita that was steel reinforced. The floor, walls, and even that lovely roof will withstand just about anything thrown at it. According to the building's current owners, it

"-still stands and looks much as it did when it was new. Tough as nails, and upgraded to meet today's codes, using old photographs we tried to keep as much of the original look as we could."
(from The Spice Merchant web site)

However, according to HPA, the building exterior was originally polychrome. You can see a photo of the original building on their web site, too.

Also according to HPA:

Since 1937, the Metholatum Building has served as a social welfare office, technical college, thrift store and is presently home to the Spice Merchant café. Although it maintains much of its original appearance and has suffered little alteration, it is on none of the historic registers.
So, again you ask what has this to do with TEA?

If you've been following the dialogue, you read that the building is now owned by The Spice Merchant, a place that is beautiful both inside and out. And the scents are simply heavenly, especially when they are roasting coffee.

It is the only place in Wichita to buy bulk tea, coffee, and spices under one roof. According to their web site, they have over 160 varieties of bulk tea. Next Tuesday we'll go inside the Spice Merchant and see a few of their teas and other goodies. Hope you enjoyed the history lesson that eventually led us to Tea on Tuesday. Speaking of T Tuesday, don't forget to go drink tea with the T Tuesday gals, whose blogs can be found on Kimmie's sidebar.

Today's blog of choice has nothing to do with drinking tea, but then, one might argue neither does my post. However, I fell in absolute love with the gorgeous tea cups as part of Jeannine's blog banner. And for those of you who quilt, Daze of Grace will have you saying WOW. I was totally impressed by her lovely quilts and that wall hanging she used in a tablescape. Her weekly tablescapes are truly works of art.

I also love how she hangs her completed aprons on her clothes line to photograph them. Speaking of aprons, I won one in a giveaway and will soon have that very cute apron you see in one of her recent posts. So, if you're a quilter, want to see some fantastic tables all decked out in finery, love aprons, or just want to see a blog about sewing, please check out Jeannine's Daze of Grace.

16 thoughtful remarks:

Tess said...

What a won derful history lesson from a not too far off neighbor. Thanks! I love the roofline of this builsding, just gorgeous.

Steph said...

THANK YOU for sharing this information, Elizabeth, I apprecuate it as I remember fondly how my mum would rub this on my chest and back whenever I had a cold when I was young..also I was trying to send you an email but couldn't. would it be possible for you to write me at slpurpleart@gmail.com ? Big Hugs...from Singapore...steph

Tammy Freiborg said...

Great roofline against the blue sky! I can only imagine the wonderful smells and sights within the Spice Mercant ... waiting until next Tuesday.

~*~Patty said...

VERY interesting history lesson indeed! Who knew!
How great that the building will be preserved, it is great architecture and of course has a story to tell too!
Looking forward to your visit to the Spice Merchant!
Happy Sweet T to you E!

Terri Kahrs said...

Oh, My!!! I remember my Great-Grandmother using Mentholatum for her aches and pains, and I remember it's distinctive smell too! The building is awesome (I love architectural history!), and I can't believe it's still not on a register. Can't wait for your visit to the Spice Merchant! Hugs, Terri xoxo

PS Isn't it nice when Blogger isn't throwing a temper tantrum?!?

bad penny said...

Great history lesson !

Kimmie said...

we use Vick's for colds ..... maybe it's the same thing??? there's also Tiger Balm - which is awesome! Thanks for the history lesson and Happy T today! Kimmie

Chris said...

ooooh the thought of roasting coffee is making my mouth water... as soon as I read the words I started to salivate...rofl
Love all your fabby photos hun and the wonderful way you told us all about them... you have such a way with words.
Like Kimmie we use Vicks for colds and I just LOVE the mentholy vapour... tis yummy enough to eat although I guess it wouldn't taste too good..yuk
Have a great day
Chris xx

Karen said...

Oh my GOODNESS I remember seeing a jar of Mentholatum in amongst my Dads stuff!!!! Right over here in Cornwall, England!!! It was brilliant and if I had a cold it was rubbed on my feet!!!

Very interesting building and its so nice to see that it still stands today XXX

La Dolce Vita said...

fabulous post, very interesting! thanks and now I cannot wait for next tues! I am already thinking ...how far away are you??? LOL!!!

Darcy said...

Thankyou for a lovely comment on my blog.

wow what an amazing building, so much history, warms my heart to know such places are well cared for.x

Healing Woman said...

I'm so glad that the Spice Merchant kept the building true to the original when upgrading. The terra cotta colored roof against the white building is striking. I went to their site but they do not have listings of their spices at this time. I can just imagine the aroma and atmosphere of walking in the door of this magnificent place!

Dianne said...

What a beautiful building! I can't wait to see inside!

Marlynn said...

OHhhhhh, Elizabeth, I love this building and can't wait to visit the inside! Fantastic....

Halle said...

Cool history lessons. I'm actually old enough now to pay attention to history lessons instead of thinking about what I was going to wear the next day.

Martha's Favorites said...

Hi: Elizabeth you brought back a lot of memories of my childhood. In my home it was a cure all. Thank you so much for sharing. I love that you added to tea thing there. You are so sweet. Blessings my friend, Martha