What Is The World’s Littlest Skyscraper?
The World’s Littlest Skyscraper, also known as the Newby McMahon Building, is located in Wichita Falls in the US state of Texas. It stands 40 feet tall, 10 feet wide, and 18 feet deep. This 4-story building has a Neoclassical design and is constructed of red brick and cast stone. Of its 430 square feet of area, roughly 25% is taken up by the internal staircase. The Ripley’s Believe It or Not! column wrote about the Newby McMahon Building in the 1920s, giving the building its current nickname of “the World’s Littlest Skyscraper”.
History Of The World’s Littlest Skyscraper
In 1912, the community of Burkburnett became an oil boom town after the discovery of a nearby petroleum reserve. Its rapid population and economic growth began to influence the neighboring town of Wichita Falls, creating a need for new homes and office spaces.
J.D. McMahon, the owner of an oil rig construction company, had office space in the Newby Building (built in 1906). He announced his intention of building a highrise extension of the original building in response to the unmet local demand for developed real estate. Several individuals invested a total of $200,000 on McMahon’s promise. In the end, he used the property next to the Newby Building without owner permission, built a 40-foot tall building instead of a 480-foot one, and fled the town with the remaining investment money.
Although the investors sued McMahon, the judge ruled in his favor. It turns out that McMahon had followed the agreed-upon and approved blueprints. The previously contracted elevator company pulled out of the deal after learning of the fraudulent investment. Wichita Falls was then left with a tiny building that did not meet the local office space needs and that lacked even a staircase to reach the upper floors. It was rented out by only two businesses throughout the 1920s.
In 1929, the oil boom collapsed and the Great Depression affected the local economy. The World’s Littlest Skyscraper was vacated and left empty for a number of years. In 1931, it suffered fire damage. After being remodeled, it was rented by a variety of businesses including small restaurants and barber shops. The municipal government attempted to demolish the building on several occasions. These attempts were unsuccessful due to lack of support. In 1986, the Wichita County Heritage Society became the legal owner of the World’s Littlest Skyscraper. It was purchased by local businesses in 1999.
The World’s Littlest Skyscraper Today
In 2005, Newby McMahon building was restored after suffering significant damage caused by a storm in 2003. Today, the World’s Littlest Skyscraper is an integral part of the Depot Square Historic District of Wichita. Additionally, it is protected as a Texas Historic Landmark and is included on the National Register of Historic Places. It has also been featured in a documentary called Wichita Falls, The Future of Our Past, which highlights several historic buildings in the area. Over the last few years, it has primarily served as a furniture and home decor business as well as a tourist attraction. This building, which is neither a highrise nor a skyscraper, stands as a reminder to the community of Wichita of the dishonesty, greed, and naive hope that were rampant during the Oil Boom period.
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