Standing for more than 100 years, group wants to save these Topeka buildings

Local News

TOPEKA (KSNT) – A group of community members known as the Nick Chiles Committee is working to save a piece of Topeka’s history.

Three downtown buildings located at 7th and Quincy Avenue are known as the Nick Chiles buildings. They were built in the late 1800s. Nick Chiles was a Civil Rights leader, hotel owner and on top of that, he founded one of the top-selling publications to African Americans, the Topeka Plaindealer.

“He also established a culture for blacks to thrive,” said Christine Smith, a member of the Nick Chiles Committee. “He was a businessman, he provided land.”

His businesses functioned out of three buildings in downtown Topeka. These are known across the community as the “Nick Chiles buildings.” They have been vacant for years, but a group of Topekans are pushing to stop them from being torn down.

“We are trying to preserve the history,” Smith said. “Not only preserve it, but advocate to restore it to bring true inclusion and diversity out here in Topeka.”

Smith and other members of the Nick Chiles committee have created a Facebook page and petition for those who want to learn more and help contribute.

The buildings are currently owned by a local development firm called AIM Strategies, LLC. The company has developed well known businesses in downtown Topeka, such as The Pennant and Iron Rail Brewing. The company bought the buildings in 2017.

“That was becoming a very critical location for downtown right next to the plaza and everything, and those buildings were just deteriorating and being left to deteriorate,” said Shawn Wagoner, the CEO of AIM Strategies.

AIM Strategies wants to use the buildings to help grow downtown Topeka, but it would be hard to keep the three buildings as a whole.

“Nothing really works with the buildings and the shape that they are in,” Wagoner said.

The plan that is currently in place would keep one of the buildings, but demolish the other two. Most importantly, it would also still honor Nick Chiles legacy.

“What we are looking at is building a restaurant right on the west side of the corner facing the plaza,” Wagoner said. “Within the complex, there will be an open area museum which will honor Nick Chiles. I think his story hasn’t been told well in the community.”

The City of Topeka said that as of right now, an application for demolition has not been filed yet.

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December 31 2021 11:59 pm