The downtown area of Marquette was built in the 1880’s and 1890’s, and has been restored to its turn of the century appearance. Most of Marquette’s downtown buildings display a decorative metal trim-work meticulously painted in a Scandinavian motif. The painting began as a beautification project for a single building but quickly spread throughout downtown, leaving behind one of the most attractive business districts in Kansas.The entire downtown area is designated a Kansas Historic Site, known as the Washington Street Historic District.
The six-store structure on the east side of the street known as the Opera House Block was built in 1886-87 for $50,000!
Olof Olson, founder of The Olson Furniture Store (1886), was one the original builders. This store is still in business after almost 110 years!
Located in the Opera House Block is an old fashioned Drug Store from the turn of the century-complete with ice cream chairs and marble soda fountain! It has regular business hours – stop by for a soda!
rnA very unique fact about these stores is the tunnels underneath the businesses connecting them together. Many years ago, you could go from one store to the next! The same is true for the old Marquette State Bank building on the west side of the street at the opposite end. It was built in 1887, and is now the Mauquette Community Library. The buildings under those four stores are also connected by tunnels!