TOPEKA (KSNT) – A longtime Topeka icon has been declared missing.

Topeka native Jeff Whelan is the great-grandson of one of the original founders of the Topeka lumberyard Whelan’s. When he recently went to a local warehouse to look for the business’s old mascot, Woody Whelan, he discovered it was missing. Since then, he has put the word out in the hopes an antique collector might come forward with the statue’s whereabouts.

Standing nearly 15 feet tall, Woody Whelan is hard to miss. He may look familiar to some long-time Topeka residents. The mascot greeted customers from the front exterior façade of Whelan’s downtown lumber yard starting in the 1960’s. He was placed into storage in 2008 when the business was sold to McCray Lumber. The plan was to keep the icon safe until it could find a better home.

Jeff Whelan recently decided Woody deserved a permanent spot where he could be enshrined in Topeka history. He had been in talks with the Kansas Museum of Natural History about putting the mascot on display there when he discovered Woody had disappeared.

“We probably should’ve acted sooner on it in hindsight,” Whelan said. “We found it had been sold without our permission so now we’re on a mission to find it.”

According to Whelan, the piece was accidentally sold to an antique dealer by someone who didn’t have the family’s permission. Since then, Woody Whelan was sold again and his current location is now unknown.

“If someone does have it, hopefully they would be willing to listen to us,” Whelan said. “If the museum is OK with accepting the item, maybe they would be willing to donate it.”

Whelan hopes whoever currently has Woody will come forward soon and be part of giving the icon a chance at becoming a permanent part of Topeka, and Kansas, history.

“We see this as a cool opportunity for someone to bring back a piece of Kansas and Topeka history,” Whelan said.

If you have any information on the location of Woody Whelan, reach out to Jeff Whelan at his Facebook account here.

Whelan’s Lumber got its start in 1908 after Jeff Whelan’s great-great-uncle, J.B., and great-grandfather, Frank, bought the downtown location for $4,493 from the Topeka Lumber Company. Jeff described J.B. as the “brains behind the operation” and Frank as being more customer-service focused. The founders passed the business down through the family until it was eventually sold after a century of serving the Topeka community.