General Store building at Cowtown

Date: 8/25/2020
Contact: James Vannurden |

By Keith Wondra

In the first part of an ongoing history of Old Cowtown Museum's historic buildings this blog entry covers the General Store. This original structure was built in 1884 at 429 N. Main in Garden Plain, Kansas for A.B. Crawford. He later sold it to Bruce Masters. In 1902, Masters owned the store with Henry Tennison. Four years later Tennison became the sole owner.

General_Store_Garden_Plain_1910.jpgHenry Tennison's Grocery Store (right) in 1910.

General_Store_Garden_Plain_Interior_1910.jpg Interior of Henry Tennison's Grocery Store in 1910.

Several owners later in 1926 Alois Stepanek bought the building to coincide with his butcher business. Alois came to Garden Plain in 1911 after his marriage to Anna Debbrecht and bought a butcher shop from Louis Debbrect, Anna’s brother. He later became known as the “sausage king” of the community due to the selling of his sausage to local businesses and even as far off as Wichita. After buying the grocery store nearby from Wheeler and Stanton in 1926 he renamed it the Corner Grocery. Alois ran the store until 1962 when he sold it to his son Gerald.

GP 1925.jpgInterior of the Garden Plain General Store in 1925, l-r; Anna Debbrecht Stepanek, Gerald Stepanek, Henry Debbrecht, and Alois Stepanek.

In 1964, Gerald Stepanek donated the old General Store to Old Cowtown Museum and a new store was built on the Garden Plain site in 1965. The old structure was moved to the museum in three pieces in 1965. Once at Cowtown the structure was interpreted as a 19th century General Store.

General_Store_Cowtown_1965.jpg General Store after its move to Old Cowtown Museum in 1965.

Garden of the Plain: Garden Plain, Kansas, 1884-1984

All pictures courtesy of Old Cowtown Museum.